Transgender woman gets $115,000 in settlement for alleged discrimination
In EEOC v. Deluxe Financial Services, Inc., Case No. 0:15-cv-02646-ADM-SER (Jan. 20, 2016), the U.S. District Minnesota Judge, Ann D. Montgomery ruled that the company’s practice against a transgender employee was discriminatory in nature and asked the company to enter into a settlement agreement for the same.
Britney Austin, the victim began working with defendant, Deluxe Financial Services, check-printing company in Minnesota on October 8, 2007. She was identified as a male on birth and continued working as a male after joining the company. However, she suffered from gender dysphoria and after several years of presenting herself as male, she expressed her intention of presenting herself as a female. In November 2010, she expressed her desire to her local then-supervisor, Mike Jeffers and then began presenting herself as female. Furthermore, she presented evidences of her gender dysphoria diagnosis.
She was however, denied using woman’s restroom until the necessary surgeries took place. In February 2011, she was scheduled for a court hearing to change her name to Britney Erica Austin. Post-hearing, although her name was changed officially, yet despite submitting proper proofs, all of her company records were not updated. Not only was she refrained from using the woman’s restroom in the company, but was also referred to in a demeaning and derogatory manner on numerous occasions by her co-workers. Even the managers at the company’s facility in Phoenix passed on slurs regarding her gender.
The EEOC filed a complaint on her behalf and Britney in addition to the above allegations further alleged that the company denied her health insurance coverage for transition related-care. She also stated that she was denied severance pay and Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) benefits when she was laid-off.
During the trial, the company continued denying that it violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 or treated Britney unlawfully. Instead, it advocated that it was trying to improve its work climate by making it transgender employee friendly.
Judge Montgomery finally found the company to be guilty of discriminatory practices against Britney Austin. It ordered Deluxe Financial Services to enter into a settlement agreement according to which it was liable to pay Britney an amount of $115,000 including back pay and compensatory damages, to issue her a personal apology and change its policies for transgender employees and prevent unlawful sex discrimination and harassment. Furthermore, the company will also be required to provide additional annual training to all its employees that unlawful sex discrimination will include discrimination based on sex-stereotyping, gender-identity, and transgender status.
Deluxe Financial Services is required to submit its annual reports to EEOC regarding its implementation of the above norms and terms as agreed to in the settlement.