AURORA, Ill. — A Hobby Lobby store in Illinois is facing a discrimination complaint after a ‘transgender’ employee was told that he may not use the women’s restroom until he has reconstructive surgery to switch from male to female reproductive organs.
The employee, who goes by the name Meggan Sommerville, also professes to be a Christian. He has worked for Hobby Lobby since 1998, at which time he identified as male.However, in 2009, Sommerville began transitioning to look like a woman and changed his name. According to Sommerville, Hobby Lobby accommodated him by changing his gender in the company records and providing a name tag with his new name. He also states that company insurance covered part of his treatment, such as hormone therapy.
But Hobby Lobby drew the line when Sommerville began using the women’s restroom. Representatives at the Aurora location reportedly told Sommerville that he must use the men’s restroom until he has reconstructive surgery to obtain female genitalia.
“I was devastated,” Sommerville told the Huffington Post. “I just want to be treated like all the other women. To do anything else diminishes who I am in the eyes of customers and employees.”
Therefore, in 2011, he filed a complaint with the Illinois Department of Human Rights (IDHR), alleging discrimination in employment and public accommodation. The case was thrown out in 2012 due to a lack of evidence, but was later overturned and the matter is currently pending before the IDHR.
“Since then they still have denied me use of the women’s restroom, even though my state ID [and] even the health benefits of my own company recognize me as female,” Sommerville told Newsweek. “I’m just looking to be treated equally with every other female in the company—not just in the store, but in the company. If they recognize me as female for certain things, why can’t they recognize me as female for everything?”
Hobby Lobby is not commenting on the matter since it is pending, but others have expressed concern that homosexual and transgender groups may now seek to revoke the religious rights of companies like Hobby Lobby following its recent win in the Supreme Court.
Reports state that following the high court’s decision, “[s]everal major gay rights groups withdrew support … for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act that would bolster gay and transgender rights in the workplace, saying they fear that broad religious exemptions included in the current bill might compel private companies to begin citing objections similar to those that prevailed in a U.S. Supreme Court case…”
Matt Barber of BarbWire.com says that he believes that the issues facing Hobby Lobby and others are essentially a war against Christianity.
“They’ve stopped pretending, folks. This is about criminalizing Christianity,” he wrote in an article published on Sunday entitled Left Moves to Outlaw Christianity. “The Hobby Lobby decision has merely made secular liberals forget themselves momentarily. It’s blown back the propagandist curtain to expose their truly sinister aims. Hobby Lobby hasn’t put the ‘culture war’ to rest. It’s taken a gavel to the ‘progressive’ hornets’ nest.”