The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) determined Sam’s Club, a subsidiary of Walmart, discriminated against a transgender employee. In the company’s treatment of Jessica Shyne Robison, the EEOC determined there was ‘reasonable cause to believe’ Sam’s Club violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund (TLDEF) represented Robison.
Robison was a longtime employee of Sam’s Club in Florida who earned numerous promotions.
However, a supervisor began harassing and intimidating her when she began her gender transition in 2014. Sam’s Club disciplined and demoted Robison after she filed a complaint.
Furthermore, as explained in the EEOC’s Letter of Determination, Sam’s Club also denied Robison medical coverage due to her sex. The EEOC found that Robison was denied ‘medically necessary care that would have been covered if not for her transgender status’.
What about the recent DOJ ruling?
At the end of July, the Department of Justice argued Title VII of the Civil Rights Act does not protect LGBTI people. This is not entirely accurate, however.
Gay Star News spoke to TLDEF’s Executive Director Jillian Weiss to clear up this matter.
‘The Department of Justice did not talk about LGBT people, they talked about gay people,’ Weiss explained. ‘They said sexual orientation is not covered. They did not, as far as I can tell, mention gender identity. As far as I know, they are still of the opinion that transgender people are protected from sex discrimination.’
Weiss also commented on the healthcare matter: ‘Non-discriminatory healthcare is a right under the Civil Rights Act. That’s an important thing to have the EEOC say.’
‘It was wrong and the company must make amends’
‘Sam’s Club ignored my my job performance and targeted me,’ Robison said. ‘It was wrong and the company must make amends. I am grateful to TLDEF and I look forward to moving my case forward.’
Weiss pointed out to GSN that Walmart has a rating of 100 from the Human Rights Campaign: ‘This just shows how the policies don’t reach to the shop floor.’
‘I think that the EEOC correctly recognized that transgender people have rights and are protected from sex discrimination,’ Weiss concluded. ‘Whether that be in the form of harassment or discrimination or discriminatory healthcare policy.’