Hobby Lobby is a craft store. However, they are also very right-wing Christian and anti-birth control, anti-gay rights and anti-pretty much anything that doesn’t fall in line with their version of Christianity.
For those of us who aren’t terribly crafty, Hobby Lobby is probably best known for their petulant anti-Obamacare lawsuit. The Supreme Court ruled in favor of Hobby Lobby. Their employees didn’t have to be covered for certain types of birth control simply because the owners of the store thought that some birth control methods cause abortions. Reality be damned.
Now, they find themselves on the losing end of a lawsuit, although not at the Supreme Court level. Megan Sommerville is a transgender activist who just happens to work for Hobby Lobby in Aurora, Illinois. She had to sue for her right to use the restroom that matches her gender.
She has worked for Hobby Lobby for 17 years, but she’s only been living as a woman since 2010. She suffers from fibromyalgia, which increases the need to use the restroom, but she was forced to either wait for a lunch break or use the men’s room, even though she is not a man.
“I had to go covertly,” Sommerville told Windy City Times in a 2014 interview. “If there was somebody in there, I would have to wait. The last thing I wanted was a complaint, or to make a scene, or worse yet, for somebody to be hostile.”
Sommerville’s bosses made it clear to her that she was not to use the female restroom either as an employee or as a customer. When she tried to use that facility off the clock, she was written up. “They don’t care whether I’m a customer or not,” she said. “I am not allowed to use the women’s restroom period.”
Source: Windy City Media Group
Sommerville was first turned away by the Illinois Department of Huan Rights, but a law firm took her case to State of Illinois Human Rights Commission Administrative Law Judge William J. Borah.
In his decision, Borah noted Hobby Lobby’s “concern about a woman employee expressing ‘discomfort’ with [Sommerville] being present in the women’s restroom.”
“However, a co-worker’s discomfort cannot justify discriminatory terms and conditions of employment,” Borah wrote.
He added that Hobby Lobby’s 2014 construction of “a ‘unisex’ single use restroom for [Sommerville] only segregates her and perpetuates different treatment contrary to the [Illinois Human Rights] Act.”
Borah also stated that that “nothing in the Act makes any surgical procedure a prerequisite for its protection of sexual related identity. Therefore [Hobby Lobby’s] unilateral surgical requirement is untenable.”
Still, Hobby Lobby hasn’t changed their policy whatsoever. Somerville still has to wait to use the bathroom, but the ruling does bring the case to the Human Rights Commission and hopefully, it will be viewed as a precedent.
Here’s a bit more about Meggan:
Featured image via YouTube screen capture.