Federal lawsuit alleges MN company discriminated against transgender worker

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A Minnesota company is the subject of a federal lawsuit that alleges it discriminated against a transgender employee.

The Associated Press reports the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) filed the suit Friday against Shorewood-based banking products company Deluxe Financial Services Corp.

According to an EEOC news release posted by Gender Identity Watch, Britney Austin worked in the company's office in Phoenix, Arizona, but Deluxe refused to let her use the women's restroom after she began presenting at work as a woman.

The EEOC also says that Austin "had performed her duties satisfactorily," but that co-workers "subjected to a hostile work environment, including hurtful epithets and intentionally using the wrong gender pronouns to refer to her."

The lawsuit states that Austin was born a male but identifies as a female. She has been diagnosed with gender dysphoria (gender identity disorder) and started hormone therapy in 2011 as part of her gender transition.

She began working for Deluxe in 2007 under her male name, but began presenting as a woman three years later.

The suit alleges that the company refused several requests from Austin to use the female restrooms – even after she presented her supervisors with copies of her medical records, a notice of her legal name change and a copy of her driver's license.

It also says she was referred to by co-workers as "boy," while others commented negatively on her appearance and clothes. On one occasion, an outside vendor mocked her appearance during staff training, causing her co-workers to laugh at her.

Austin left Deluxe in July 2011.

The Associated Press reports that as of Saturday, Deluxe had not yet responded to its requests for a comment. It notes that the EEOC is accusing the company of violating the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits sex discrimination.

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