A former employee who claims she was fired by Don's Valley Market after revealing plans to transition from a man to a woman has received a $50,000 settlement after lodging a complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
The complaint was made in 2010 after Cori McCreery of Rapid City was fired. The conciliation agreement between McCreery and supermarket owner Don Turner was posted Monday on the EEOC's website.
"This is about a person’s freedom to be who she is and keep her job, which she was performing successfully. It’s as simple as that," Julie Schmid, acting director of the EEOC's Minneapolis Area Office, said Wednesday.
Turner said that even though he reached an agreement with McCreery, it is not an admission of wrongdoing.
"We settled because it was in the best interest of our country, and there was no admission of guilt on our part,” he said.
McCreery, 29, who now works for a major airline, received legal assistance from Lambda Legal, a legal organization that assists lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.
According to a Lambda Legal news release, McCreery was fired after she notified Turner that she planned to change her gender.
"I remember being told that I was 'making other employees uncomfortable' and 'what would moms think?'" McCreery wrote on a Lambda Legal blog.
McCreery worked off and on for Turner for more than five years. The first time was while Turner managed another grocery store and then later at his current store at 747 Timmons Blvd.
The EEOC investigated McCreery's complaint and determined there was reasonable cause to believe that Don's Valley Market violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
"I'm so incredibly thrilled," McCreery said in a statement issued through Lambda Legal. "This gives me hope. The day I was fired, I had no idea what I would do. I now feel a sense of closure and can focus on my future. No one should be fired just because of who they are."
In addition to the cash settlement, Don's Valley Market is required to provide employees with annual professional anti-discrimination training; implement and share an anti-discrimination policy with employees; report future complaints of discrimination to the EEOC; and provide McCreery with a letter of apology and a neutral letter of reference.