University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
new search
page permalink
Case Name Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Deluxe Financial Services EE-MN-0091
Docket / Court 15-cv-02646-ADM-SER ( D. Minn. )
State/Territory Minnesota
Case Type(s) Equal Employment
Attorney Organization EEOC
Case Summary
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) brought this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota on behalf of a transgender woman who alleged that she had been discriminated against by her former employer under 42 U.S.C. § 1981a. The EEOC alleged violations of Title ... read more >
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) brought this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota on behalf of a transgender woman who alleged that she had been discriminated against by her former employer under 42 U.S.C. § 1981a. The EEOC alleged violations of Title VII (42 U.S.C. § 2000e) and sought monetary and injunctive relief on behalf of the complainant. The case was assigned to Judge Ann Montgomery.

The EEOC claimed that the complainant was subjected to a hostile work environment and received disparate treatment because of her sex, gender preferences, and condition of gender dysphoria. They alleged that the defendant would not allow the complainant to use common female restrooms, and its HR department implied that undergoing genital reconstruction surgery was the only condition under which she would be allowed to do so. The complainant believed that this inquiry about the details of her genitalia was an invasion of privacy. On numerous occasions and using multiple forms of proof, the complainant also requested a change of her name and sex in internal records. After some hassle and delay, only some records were changed. This incomplete change of records resulted in, for example, outside merchants referring to complainant by her former male name.

The EEOC also alleged that the complainant was regularly referred to in a demeaning and derogatory manner by coworkers, and though she requested intervention, the defendant did not investigate her claims or issue any discipline. For example, coworkers and managers continually misgendered the complainant, used her former male name, and said that she looked like “Tarzan".

The defendant’s employee health insurance plan also contained a clause that categorically excluded all health benefits having to do with gender transition to transgender persons, regardless of medical necessity. Only if the individual’s gender did not match what was on the initial form would these benefits be denied - theoretically, a non-transgender person could be covered for similar treatments. As a result, the complainant paid for hormone therapy and blood level tests out of pocket.

The complainant announced her intention to transition and began presenting herself as female in November 2010, three years into her tenure with the employer. She began hormone therapy just two months later and provided documentation of a legal name change in February 2011. In June of 2011, she presented a doctor’s note confirming her diagnosis of gender dysphoria and a driver’s license with her sex listed as female.

The complainant’s employment with Deluxe Financial ended in July 2011. On her penultimate day of work, the defendant learned that plaintiff filed a discrimination claim with the EEOC. An HR representative then demanded that she sign a release as part of a severance package, but the plaintiff refused.

In October 2014, the parties began engaging in settlement negotiations. Shortly after, the complainant filed an uncontested motion to intervene as a plaintiff. On October 20, 2014, the court granted the complainant's motion.

On January 20, 2016, the court approved a consent decree in which the defendant agreed to pay $115,000 ($40,000 of which covered attorney’s fees and $75,000 of which was paid directly to the complainant), alter records regarding the plaintiff’s employment, and improve workplace policies and practices. Further, the defendant agreed to issue a letter of apology to the complainant, not mention her prior legal name or lawsuit details in a reference, and to ensure that records show that she was laid off, not fired. More generally, the defendant agreed to hire an outside consultant to revise policies to reflect, among other things: a clear commitment to preventing discrimination based on gender dysphoria and transgender status; encouragement of reporting discrimination; and an assurance that the defendant will investigate allegations of discrimination. All supervising employees would then be trained annually on these commitments to ensure compliance. The defendant further committed to complying fully with employee requests for name and biographical data changes, and to allow transgender employees unhindered access to restrooms without inquiring into medical history and documentation. With the employee health plan, the defendant agreed to eliminate partial or categorical exclusions for otherwise medically necessary care solely on the basis of sex and gender dysphoria. This applied to any care that was currently available to non-transgender persons, including hormone therapy.

The consent decree was set to last for three years. There has been no docket activity since the entry of the decree in 2016, so the case is presumably closed.

Dan Hofman - 02/25/2016
Hope Brinn - 05/14/2020


compress summary

- click to show/hide ALL -
Issues and Causes of Action
click to show/hide detail
Issues
Affected Gender
Female
Content of Injunction
Apology
Develop anti-discrimination policy
Discrimination Prohibition
Expungement of Employment Record
Post/Distribute Notice of Rights / EE Law
Provide antidiscrimination training
Retaliation Prohibition
Defendant-type
Retailer
Discrimination-area
Harassment / Hostile Work Environment
Other Conditions of Employment (including assignment, transfer, hours, working conditions, etc)
Discrimination-basis
Gender identity
Sex discrimination
EEOC-centric
Private Party intervened in EEOC suit
General
Disparate Treatment
Gay/lesbian/transgender
Plaintiff Type
EEOC Plaintiff
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1981
Title VII (including PDA), 42 U.S.C. § 2000e
Defendant(s) Deluxe Financial Services, Inc.
Plaintiff Description EEOC and a transgender woman who underwent her transition while employed.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations EEOC
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Attorneys fees
Damages
Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration 2016 - 2019
Filed 06/04/2014
Case Closing Year 2019
Case Ongoing No
Court Docket(s)
D. Minn. 0:15−cv−02646−ADM−SER
EE-MN-0091-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 01/20/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
D. Minn.
Complaint [ECF# 1]
EE-MN-0091-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/04/2015
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
D. Minn.
Complaint in Intervention of Plaintiff/Intervenor Ms. Britney Austin [ECF# 26]
EE-MN-0091-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 10/22/2015
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
D. Minn.
Consent Decree [ECF# 37]
EE-MN-0091-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 01/20/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Montgomery, Ann D. (D. Minn.) show/hide docs
EE-MN-0091-0003 | EE-MN-0091-9000
Rau, Steven E. (D. Minn.) [Magistrate] show/hide docs
EE-MN-0091-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Gaulding, Jill R. (Minnesota) show/hide docs
EE-MN-0091-0002 | EE-MN-0091-9000
Hall, Christy L. (Minnesota) show/hide docs
EE-MN-0091-9000
Halpern, Iris (Colorado) show/hide docs
EE-MN-0091-0001 | EE-MN-0091-0003 | EE-MN-0091-9000
Imdieke, Michael H. (Colorado) show/hide docs
EE-MN-0091-0003 | EE-MN-0091-9000
Stratton, Lisa C (Minnesota) show/hide docs
EE-MN-0091-0002 | EE-MN-0091-9000
Vasichek, Laurie A. (Minnesota) show/hide docs
EE-MN-0091-0001 | EE-MN-0091-0003 | EE-MN-0091-9000
Weiss, Jillian T. (New York) show/hide docs
EE-MN-0091-0002 | EE-MN-0091-0003 | EE-MN-0091-9000
Young, Ezra (New York) show/hide docs
EE-MN-0091-0002 | EE-MN-0091-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Brandt, Angela Beranek (Minnesota) show/hide docs
EE-MN-0091-0003 | EE-MN-0091-9000
Wilk, David M. (Minnesota) show/hide docs
EE-MN-0091-0003 | EE-MN-0091-9000
Other Lawyers O'Neill, Mary Jo (Arizona) show/hide docs
EE-MN-0091-0003

- click to show/hide ALL -

new search
page permalink

- top of page -