Category: sexual orientation discrimination

Hobby Lobby in Center of Another Controversial Debate Regarding a Transgender Employee

Meggan Sommerville worked for Hobby Lobby in Aurora, Illinois as a frame shop manager for sixteen years. In 2010, Sommerville underwent a transition and legally changed her identity and gender to female. Though she claims her co-workers were relatively positive of the process, Sommerville claims management began discriminating against her for being a transgender woman.

In 2011, Sommerville began her lawsuit against Hobby Lobby with the Illinois Department of Human Rights because the craft chain refused to allow her to use the women’s restroom facility. Instead, the company insisted she continue to use the men’s facilities.

Sommerville had to wait until the men’s restroom was empty before she would enter. On one occasion, Sommerville could not wait and she used the female restroom. She was disciplined immediately. Though the suit was initially dismissed, it was reinstated by the Human Rights Commission.

According to the pending suit, the management at Hobby Lobby informed Sommerville that unless she “undergo genital reconstructive surgery” she would not receive “equal treatment as a female employee.” When Sommerville was caught in the women’s restroom, she felt like she was getting written up for merely acting her appropriate gender.

Because she was barred from using the gender appropriate restroom, Sommerville was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, bladder problems, and dehydration because she had limited fluid intake. Further, the complaint alleges that Hobby Lobby’s policies resulted in Sommerville’s “over-anxiousness, embarrassment, shame, depression, anxiety, emotional distress, feelings of helplessness,” as well as a sleeping troubles.

Hobby Lobby is asserting the same conservative ideologies used in the infamous Supreme Court decision.

Image Source:


Made to Wear a Homophobic Slur

Sixteen year old Tyler Brandt began working at Taco John’s in Yankton, South Dakota. Like most teenagers, Brandt was looking for a run of the mill summer job. But then, things got degrading, humiliating, and discriminatory.

According to a store manager, John Scott, employees at Taco John’s are typically assigned “humorously-degrading nicknames” to be worn as name tags. However, the name tags are never mandatory to wear.

Brandt’s nickname was “Gaytard” because he’s homosexual. Thought Scott claims the name tags were never compulsory, Brandt alleges that his manager (not John Scott, but rather another member of management) forced him to wear the name tag.

Brandt continues, “I put it on because I didn’t want to upset him and I felt that if I did do anything to upset him, it would cause me to lose my job because he’d be looking for ways to fire me.”

When a customer came in, Brandt attempted to remove the name tag while he helped the guest, but the manager berated him to put the tag back on. The manager order Brandt to wear the name tag for his entire shift, even to help customers.

Brandt tried to keep the name tag hidden, but then the manager would shout the derogatory nickname across the restaurant. Subsequently, customers witnessed the name calling. Brandt then quit, but kept the nametag for proof.

But when John Scott retells the story, the details are significantly different. According to management, Brandt chose “Gaytard” as his own nickname, and asked the manager in question to make the nametag for him. The manager did not instigate the situation, but rather, acquiesced to Brandt’s requests.

In response, Brandt questioned, “Do you really think I’d want to go around making a mockery of who I am?”

Taco John’s corporate offices condemned the behavior and said it will not investigate the claims since the Yankton, South Dakota location is a franchise.

Souce: ABC Kelo

Extending FMLA to Same Sex Partners

same sex coupleA proposal was on the table from the federal Labor Department to extend eligibility for the Family and Medical Leave Act to same sex couples. This extension in eligibility would affect same sex couples regardless of whether or not the state they reside in recognizes their marriage.

“Under proposed revisions, the FMLA will be applied to all families equally, enabling individuals in same-sex marriages to full exercise rights and fulfill their responsibilities to their families,” said Labor Secretary Thomas E. Perez.

However, the rights afforded under FMLA for same sex couples must still operate within its original scope, therefore, can only be extended to private-sector employees.

In light of the recent United States v. Windsor decision, homosexual couples married in states where it is legal, though it is not their home state, must receive the same legal benefits a heterosexual couple retains upon marriage. The exceptions are social security and veteran benefits.

According the Department of Labor’s website today, the definition of spouse now includes same sex or common law marriages that were legally entered into in a state that recognizes said marriages.

Source: Washington Post

Image Source: