The Government Fines Hobby Lobby $220,000 For Trying to Protect Women’s Privacy

A Hobby Lobby store in Illinois barred a male employee pretending to be a woman from using the women’s restroom. He was directed to the store’s unisex bathroom but wanted access to the women’s private facility. He filed a lawsuit.

Was Hobby Lobby’s first mistake acknowledging the man’s “transition” and changing his employee records? The employee had used the women’s restroom before, and when called out for it, filed a complaint with the state’s human rights commission. The commission later ruled Hobby Lobby’s actions discriminatory.

Bloomberg reported on the outcome of the lawsuit. The man’s sex is “unquestionably female,” the court contended, and fined the retailer $220,000 for breaking state law.

Although the court didn’t cite the “conservative” Supreme Court’s decision in Bostock v. Clayton County, others certainly will when ruling on this issue. Bostock was a consolidated case, and one of the parties, the owner of a funeral home, had refused to allow his male funeral director to present as a woman at work. The owner had established a sex-specific dress code for his employees, because he didn’t want to distract grieving families saying goodbye to loved ones. The employee in question agreed to the dress code when he was hired but obviously changed his mind. The owner and the employee parted ways.

The high court ruled that the Civil Rights Act of 1964, a law passed to guarantee the constitutional rights of black Americans, barred employers from discriminating on the basis of “gender identity.” Trump-appointed Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote the majority opinion.

Justice Clarence Thomas joined Justice Samuel Alito’s dissent. “The document that the Court releases is in the form of a judicial opinion interpreting a statute, but that is deceptive,” Justice Alito wrote. Sexual orientation and gender identity don’t appear on the Civil Right’s Acts list of classifications, and bills introduced in Congress to redefine “sex” have failed to pass. “A more brazen abuse of our authority to interpret statutes is hard to recall.”

Photo credit: m01229 (Creative Commons) – Some rights reserved

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