A transgender woman who has worked at Hobby Lobby for more than 10 years is suing the company for forcing her to use the men’s room until she completes sexual reassignment surgery.
Meggan Sommerville has worked for Hobby Lobby in Aurora, Illinois, since 1998. She began her transition in 2009.
Her company health insurance plan paid for her hormone therapy and the store has amended her identity on staff records to recognize her sex. But management won’t budge about her bathroom privileges.
Sommerville, who first filed a complaint against the company in 2011, says she was “devastated to learn she couldn’t use the ladies’ room.
“I’m just looking to be treated equally with every other female in the company — not just in the store, but in the company,” Sommerville told Newsweek. “If they recognize me as female for certain things, why can’t they recognize me as female for everything?”
Sommerville says she’s hidden in stalls and waited for others to leave to ensure her privacy.
“Hobby Lobby’s taking the fairly absurd position that in order for Meggan to be able to use the female facilities, she has to undergo reconstructive surgery,” her attorney Jacob Meister told Newsweek.
“I just want to be treated like all the other women,” Sommerville said. “To do anything else diminishes who I am in the eyes of customers and employees.”
She says using the men’s room creates a complicated situation in view of staff and customers who don’t know the whole story of her transition.
In her complaint she accused Hobby Lobby of imposing “unequal terms and conditions” on her because she is transgender.
“I don’t believe that any company has the right to deny access to appropriate medical care, same as the reason why I don’t believe that they have the right to deny me access to the washroom,” she said. “No company has the right to dictate what is decided between me and my doctor.”
She noted that the company has not cited any Christian views as their reason for forcing her to use the men’s lavatory.
“There’s absolutely no support in the law for this, but they are being adamant in trying to create this unlawful rule,” Meister said.
The case is pending before the Illinois Human Rights Commission.
Image credit: Michael Rivera