On January 20, 2016, a consent decree was issued by the U.S. District Court in Minnesota against Deluxe Financial Services Inc., alleging the violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by subjecting Britney Austin to a hostile work environment based on her transgender status.
The decree states that during her transition, “Ms. Austin did not conform to Defendant’s sex or gender-based preferences, expectations, or stereotypes of women; and/or because of Defendant’s sex or gender-based expectation or stereotypes related to individuals assigned the male sex at birth. In addition, Ms. Britney Austin alleges disparate treatment, disparate impact, and hostile work environment based on sex under Title VII, unlawful retaliation under Title VII, and disparate treatment, impact, unlawful medical inquiries, and retaliation under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).”
A consent decree is an agreement or settlement to resolve a dispute between two parties without admission of guilt (in a criminal case) or liability (in a civil case) and most often refers to such a type of settlement in the United States. According to the decree, Deluxe Financial Service Inc. denies that it violated Title VII or the ADA and further denies that it treated Ms. Austin unlawfully and the courts now find this matter resolved.
In exchange for settling out of court, Ms. Austin was awarded monetary damages of $115,000.00 to cover back pay, attorneys’ fees and punitive damages, expungement of her personnel files, given a neutral reference stating that Ms. Austin is eligible for rehire, correction of personnel files and a letter of apology.
The expungement of personnel files states “Defendant shall expunge from Ms. Austin’s personnel file (a) any poor evaluations, discipline, or discharge documents after September 1, 2010 and destroy these; (b) any and all references to any charge of discrimination filed against Defendant; (c) any and all references to the allegations of discrimination filed against Defendant that formed the basis of this action; and (d) any and all references to Ms. Austin’s participation in this action.”
Within 60 days of the decree, Deluxe Financial Service Inc. must hire a consultant to review their current EEO policies and practices, make a strong and clear commitment to preventing further harassment against transgender employees, and post a clear explanation of an employee’s concern about discrimination may be raised with any manager. The decree also states, “Defendant will ensure that employee requests to change sex-designation or name information in Defendant’s internal records, computer and communication systems are fully and promptly complied with…”
Additional training for employees, managers, supervisors, and human resources manager must be taken within the next 75 days, and within 10 calendar days of the decree, “Deluxe shall post an eight and one-half (8.5) inches by eleven (11) inches laminated copy of the Notice attached as Exhibit C to this Decree at all of Deluxe’s facilities in a conspicuous location or locations, easily accessible to and commonly frequented by Deluxe’s employees (i.e. employee bulletin board or lunch room). The Notice shall remain posted for the duration of this Decree. Deluxe shall take all reasonable steps to ensure that the posting is not altered, defaced or covered by any other material. Within fifteen (15) calendar days from the Court’s execution of this Decree, Deluxe shall certify to the EEOC in writing that the Notice has been properly posted as described in this paragraph.”
Planet Transgender reached out to Deluxe Financial Service Inc. for comment, but as of print, they have not responded.