Meggan Sommerville, a transgender employee who has worked for Hobby Lobby in Aurora for a number of years has filed two charges of discrimination alleging Hobby Lobby discriminated against her when it denied her use of the women’s restroom and then wrote her up for using the men’s restroom. Betty Tsamis of Tsamis Law Firm PC in Chicago represents Meggan.
Meggan began to transition from male to female in July 2010. That same month, Ms. Sommerville legally changed her name from Mark Thomas Sommerville and additionally had her Illinois Driver’s License gender marker changed from male to female. Hobby Lobby management has prohibited Meggan from using the women’s restroom in the store where she works. Meggan has been forced to use the men’s restroom. However, this is very distressing to Meggan, who presents a female. Additionally, using the men’s restroom is not reasonable. If forced to use the men’s restroom, Meggan waits until there are no men using the facility. On February 23, 2011, Meggan, who couldn’t wait for the men’s room to be vacant, used the women’s restroom was written up for using it. Meggan has modified her workplace intake of fluids to minimize being forced to use the men’s restroom and she waits for her lunch break to walk to a nearby business to use its women’s restroom.
“Transgender employees in Illinois are protected against discrimination in the terms and conditions of employment. We believe having access to an appropriate restroom facility is a term and condition of employment. Denying someone such access because of their gender identity violates the Illinois Human Rights Act,” said Meggan’s attorney, Betty Tsamis. “Since the restrooms are available to the general public, we believe Hobby Lobby’s actions violate the public accommodations protections of the IHRA,” Tsamis additionally said.