A Rapid City grocery store has agreed to pay a former employee $50,000 to settle a lawsuit in which she claimed she was fired for being transgender.
Cori McCreery, 29, said she was fired in 2010 from Don’s Valley Market after she announced she was transitioning from being a man to being a woman. McCreery had worked for the company on and off for five years and at one point had held a supervisory position.
McCreery filed a discrimination complaint and the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission investigated. In addition to the money, the store has agreed to apologize to McCreery and to provide her with a “neutral” letter of reference, the EEOC said.
The store also must develop an anti-discrimination policy, provide professional anti-discrimination training annually for employees and report any future discrimination complaints to the EEOC.
“Employers need to be made aware that their personal myths, fears, and stereotypes about gender identity can subject them to liability if they act upon them in an employment setting,” Julie Schmid, acting director of the EEOC’s Minneapolis Area Office, said in a statement.
Store owner Don Turner told KOTA-TV that he settled to avoid a costly legal fight and that he does not admit guilt.
The EEOC said its investigation determined that there was reasonable cause to believe that the store violated McCreery’s civil rights.
“I’m so incredibly thrilled,” McCreery said in a statement issued through Lamba Legal, a legal organization that helps lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people. “This gives me hope. The day I was fired, I had no idea what I would do. I now feel a sense of closure and can focus on my future. No one should be fired just because of who they are.”
McCreery said she now works for an airline.
Dru Levasseur, transgender rights project director for Lambda Legal, said the settlement “makes a strong statement about the EEOC’s commitment that discrimination against transgender workers will not be tolerated.”
“The days of firing people on the basis of their gender identity or gender expression have passed,” Levasseur said.