A check-printing company accused of discriminating against a transgender woman working at one of its call centers is cutting a big check in a settlement after violating federal employment law.
Britney Austin was employed by Deluxe Financial Services, Inc. at its Phoenix, Arizona call center, where she says she faced harassment and discrimination because of her gender identity. The company, one of the nation's largest check-printing companies, has agreed to pay $115,000 and will implement numerous changes to company policies.
Austin alleged that after informing her supervisors she would be transitioning on the job, managers and co-workers subjected her to ongoing harassment and offensive slurs. The company would not let her use the correct restroom and refused to change her name and sex on employment records, saying gender reassignment surgery would be required first. Then Austin's attempts to utilize the company health plan for medically necessary health care were denied even though the company claimed it was a requirement before they would change the documents.
The federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ruled in Austin's favor, saying the company violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by subjecting Ms. Austin to “a hostile work environment and disparate treatment because of her sex, including because Ms. Austin is a woman who is transgender…”
Deluxe Financial Services, Inc. has also agreed to train its managers and human resources personnel, remove all trans-specific exclusions in its health care plan, and implement companywide policies banning discrimination based on gender identity. Employees will also be able to use restrooms “commensurate with their gender identity.” For the next three years, the EEOC will monitor the company's compliance.
“This settlement sends a strong message. No one should face harassment and bias in the workplace, simply for being transgender,” said Ms. Austin’s attorney, Jillian T. Weiss. “It is through the bravery of people who are willing to stand up for their rights, that such rights are achieved. We applaud our client, Ms. Austin, for having the courage to speak out, take action and bring change.”
“Transgender people should never face the bias I endured in the workplace. We should be able to earn a living and provide for our families without fear of discrimination for being who we are,” Austin said. “I am so relieved to come to this settlement with my former employer, put this case behind and move on with my life. I hope by standing up for my rights I will help improve the workplace for other transgender employees in the future.”