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S.D. transgender woman wins settlement in wrongful termination suit

Monday, September 16, 2013
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RAPID CITY, S.D. — A transgender woman in South Dakota who was terminated from her job after she informed her employer that she would be taking steps to transition from male to female, has won a $50,000 settlement in her wrongful termination lawsuit.

Cori McCreery

Cori McCreery

Cori McCreery, 29, was fired in 2010 after telling her employer at Don’s Valley Market in Rapid City, S.D. that she would be transitioning on the job.

Lambda Legal filed a complaint on McCreery’s behalf in March 2012 with the EEOC, claiming that her termination constitutes illegal sex-based discrimination under Title VII, the section of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which prohibits discrimination in the workplace.

A month later, in April 2012, the EEOC issued the historic Macy v. Holder decision clarifying that Title VII protects transgender employees from discrimination on the basis of sex because sex stereotyping is illegal.

Backed by the EEOC, McCreery’s settlement reflects the maximum statutory amount for a business with under 100 employees, and includes a public notice on the EEOC website, and a letter of apology and letter of recommendation for McCreery.

“This comprehensive settlement makes a strong statement about the EEOC’s commitment that discrimination against transgender workers will not be tolerated,” said Dru Levasseur, Transgender Rights Project Director for Lambda Legal. “The days of firing people on the basis of their gender identity or gender expression have passed.”

McCreery, who was born and raised in Rapid City, worked as a store clerk for the owner of Don’s Valley Market on and off for a total of five years at two separate businesses.

When re-hired in August 2010, she was promoted to supervisor three months into the job. But when she notified her employer that she would be transitioning on the job, she received initial assurance about her job security, but was fired shortly thereafter.

McCreery said she was told that she was “making other employees uncomfortable” and that her employer had a “7 million dollar investment to protect.”

“I’m so incredibly thrilled,” said McCreery. “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.”

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