A Minnesota judge has ordered a check-print and financial services company to pay $115,000 in damages and attorney fees and write a letter of apology to a transgender woman for refusing to allow her to use the women's bathroom.
Minnesota U.S. District Court Judge Ann Montgomery issued a consent decree on Jan. 20 ordering Deluxe Financial Services Inc. to pay Britney Austin the amount and change its equal employment opportunity policies to prevent unlawful sex discrimination and harassment.
Montgomery also told the company to issue a letter of reference for future employers, change its national health benefits plan to delete any partial exclusion for health care based on transgender status and provide an annual report to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which filed the lawsuit on behalf of the complainant.
The EEOC's complaint stated that Austin was assigned the male sex at birth and presented as male when he was hired by the company. During her employment, she informed her supervisor that she was a transgender and began to present herself as a woman at work.
Deluxe refused to let her use the women's restroom and her "supervisors and co-workers subjected Austin to a hostile work environment, including hurtful epithets and intentionally using the wrong gender pronouns to refer to her."
The acts violated the Civil Rights Act of 1964, according to the EEOC, which prohibits sex discrimination including based on transgender status and gender stereotyping.
"We are extremely grateful to the EEOC for taking on this important case on behalf of our client and working side by side with us to achieve a settlement that marks yet another Title VII victory for transgender employees," Jillian Weiss, Austin's attorney, told BuzzFeed.
The company issued a letter of apology, which states, "We want to ensure you that we have made changes to our internal policies, including how we treat transgender employees' requests to change biographical information or use a restroom commensurate with their gender identity."
"The company has changed its policies to ensure that transgender employees may use a restroom commensurate with their gender identity, that the company will promptly correct that employee's sex designation and name in our internal records and systems, and that we will take hostile comments based on sex- stereotyping seriously, investigate them, and take prompt corrective and remedial action," the letter read.