Hobby Lobby Denies Transgender Employee Female Bathroom Access

October 16, 2015 – In The News
Corporate Counsel

Dori K. Stibolt was featured in the Corporate Counsel article, “Hobby Lobby Denies Transgender Employee Female Bathroom Access.” Full text can be found in the October 16, 2015, issue, but a synopsis is below.

Hobby Lobby has recently made headlines due to its employee policies preventing a transgender worker from using the female bathroom in one of its Illinois locations. According to Stibolt, the company informed the employee that she was unable to use the female restroom until she underwent surgery, even though she had legal documentation indicating her sexual orientation with an accompanying letter from her health care provider.

The company argued that other employees and customers would be uncomfortable with her presence in the bathroom. This claim was turned down by the Illinois Human Rights Commission who stated, “The prejudices of co-workers or customers are part of what the Act was meant to prevent,” referring to the Illinois Human Rights Act.

“Employers should provide convenient and unfettered bathroom access,” says Stibolt. “Requiring employees to travel to use a restroom or to limit their liquid intake is inappropriate and against OSHA regulations.”

Stibolt goes on to outline other practices to avoid these situations such as providing employees with a unisex bathroom that is available to all employees or simply permitting transgender employees to use bathrooms associated with the gender they wish to identify themselves with.