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.

Contact Andrea J. Cook at 394-8423 or andrea.cook@rapidcityjournal.com

(75) comments

humpty dumpty
humpty dumpty

I believe business owners have no say in who works for them, what they pay etc. they are a business owner only to 1. provide people with a job 2. provide me with a product 3. provide a good tax base. that is why I will continue to wear my concealed carry weapon into starbucks and everywhere else I go. They have no right to put limits on me. as a matter of fact, I think I might sue.

ColdHardTruth
ColdHardTruth

I will continue to frequent Don's. If Robert was fired for the reason the lawsuit states, Don's was in the wrong. But even if he was in the wrong I'll still shop there. Forgiveness is important. Especially if the man paid his settlement and took corrective steps agreed to in the settlement. He claimed his baggage, forgive him. Knowing Robert as well S I did at the time, its easy for ms to see that Robert could have been fired for a number of reasons not related whatsoever to his gender "choice". I didn't "choose" my gender BTW (just a side rant). I will not judge either man involved in this story as I'll never walk in their shoes. I will however pray for hope and healing and forgiveness for BOTH!

areukidding
areukidding

everyone in rapid should give Don 10 bucks this he she took him for a ride. People are 2 sue happy.

Donsupporter2
Donsupporter2

Agreed and thank you very much for your support it is greatly appreciated.

jb22
jb22

I'd never give that man any of my money not only because of this.i also feel that most of the small business owners inthis town are full of them selves also why i never buy local

Donsupporter2
Donsupporter2

Thank you for supporting the community you live and work in. Its the locally owned and small business person who but funds back into the community and gives to local events, charities, fund raisers and benefits, you don't see Wal-Mart, Target and any other large corporate owned business donating hot dogs, spaghetti, or what ever else is needed to local teams, and schools.

jb22
jb22

Yes they do alot of the stuff that gets damaged gets sent to the pound and wavi and the homeless shelter

Donsupporter2
Donsupporter2

There are several customers that come in to the store everyday some several times a day. So you get to know them and they know you and when there's an employee that comes to work sometimes as a male, sometimes a female and sometimes as both a person with facial hair an adams apple a name tag that says Robert wearing a very noticeable padded bra and fingernail polish that tends to raise some eye brows. That's how it was not transitioning on the job it was more like today I just don't feel like being a female and today I feel like being both. There are many cases of racism and bigotry in the work force that do need to be address but this wasn't one of them this was simply a man trying to protect his business that he built from the ground up no corporation backing or funding him, he did it all on his own. Trying to deal with customers questions and employees concerns and never having dealt with anything like this before Don did the only thing he thought he could and to tell the truth it wouldn't have to long before Robert got fired anyway HE was not the outstanding employee He was made out to be HE was promoted and demoted practically in the same week. Robert came to Don in desperate need of a job so Don created one for him and then 2yrs later Robert stabs him in the back (nice huh). After working at Dons he went to work at Target I would like to know why he is no longer there and the big airline he works for he works in reservations on the phone in an office not with the public face to face at all (why is that I wonder). The information that was put out there was totally one sided and now you know the truth. In a statement before Robert "Cori" said now he can finish the process of becoming a female yeah because he now has $50.000 to do that which is the real reason he sued he was not humiliated in any way he was simply let go. Now you know the truth. SUCKS HUH

Roger Cornelius
Roger Cornelius

If all these glorious about Don are true and all criticism of Cori are true, why did Don's settle the lawsuit with no admission of guilt?

With all the chatter here, this is what comes down to.

It seems to me that if Don had the evidence that Cori was a poor or distracting employee and had it documented he would have fought the lawsuit and likely would have won.

Donsupporter2
Donsupporter2

Because he did not get a chance to tell his story and he settled because you have no chance of winning against the EEOC. If he would have gone to court over this it would have been several years and almost 1 million dollars and at the end would have lost anyway. Settling does not admit guilt it means you know you have no chance of winning a case like this especially since this was the first case of its kind in SD. Also Don did not hire Cori he hired Robert and Cori didn't get fired Robert did

Roger Cornelius
Roger Cornelius

Don did have a chance did have a chance to tell his story, had fought the lawsuit regardless of the financial burdens and using the other accusations made against Cori, he may have won.

Settlement is an admission of guilt or wrong doing, if you are innocent of a crime or misdeed, why take a plea deal or make a cash settlement.

It is wrong to blame Cori and EEOC for something that Don did.

Don had plenty of opportunities to tell his side of the story in a court of law, as we all do.

I am a Don's shopper, I like their meat department, and will continue to shop there.

matyowambo
matyowambo

Settlement is not an admission of guilt, it is a compromise from both sides. I know of somebody who owns a company that was involved in a car accident. They were willing to offer the claimant a settlement amount in order to avoid court costs, the hassle of going to court, and the potential to have to pay more in the event that a judgment was made against them. They felt that they weren't in the wrong, but saw the potential for a court to see otherwise so they decided to mitigate their costs by offering a settlement The claimant rejected the settlement offer and proceeded with court. Guess what? The judge found in favor of the defendant and the claimant received nothing.

Dons supporters
Dons supporters

Thank you for sharing this! People don't understand how much this ludicrous case would have cost and who gets those funds after Don would have won.

jb22
jb22

I can tell you that cori left target on her own.some peaple dont like to get up at 3am and work all moring.

EastCoast_ExPat
EastCoast_ExPat

I never knew Cori was TG but when I shopped there, she was polite and helpful.

Small town business owners may think that they can get away with things that wouldn't fly in the bigger cities, but Rapid is not a hub of ignorant backwoods peasants who will just let anyone treat them with prejudice and get away with it.

I think this was a good settlement and the right decision.
None of us could even imagine the turmoil and stress Cori must go though just because of what she is. Someone mentioned that she used to talk about it a lot. Well good for her for being able to. No one should have to hide away because they are different. While it is true that there will always be closed minded people who can not accept diversity, it's here, and like it or not, it is legal. Get used to it.

getreal1986
getreal1986

Thank You. I agree. The settlement was given and it was the right decision and good for her!!!

NoteToSelf
NoteToSelf

Wise words, Rebecca_12 and Marlyn! ;)

Freedome
Freedome

Bad news travels fast because there are rumors last night already coming from a group of people that I wont say who they are but some of them are bragging that they got Dons to start closing the store down. They feel its a huge victory for them & we are to feel sorry for them. Now if this becomes a trend the price of food is going to go up just like health care because of all the law suites.

Now others are saying how they want to file law suites because they feel they were treated badly or fired at a job & they want a check also. This has lit a fuse that will burn a long time.

tanelnightsong
tanelnightsong

I don't know who started this rumor but I can state that it is NOT true.

Roger Cornelius
Roger Cornelius

tanelnightsong,

It's call hysteria

Dons supporters
Dons supporters

Don has always been there for his employees whenever needed regardless what they are going through. The truth is I have researched several sites and have yet to find one report that is consistent with the other, don has not been able to tell the other side of the story as with every lawsuit you are told not to say anything by your council... Hence "no comment". I realize everyone has their own comments but I can say this, where is the reverse discrimination protection at?!?! What happens when you are working with someone that makes you uncomfortable by changing their identity and you have customers stating they are uncomfortable??? What do you do then??? Bottom line is don is an amazing person and is always helping our community and employees, he is not a discriminator regardless of what anyone assumes because of the media, only one person gets to speak out of this openly and that's wrong , Eeoc has endless amounts of finances to fight with and the people that aren't the government don't ...

RCMomof3
RCMomof3

What happens when you are working with someone that makes you uncomfortable by changing their identity and you have customers stating they are uncomfortable??? What do you do then???

Well according to Don, you fire them.

Chevitz
Chevitz

Well while we are at it, lets just put up a sign at every business asking patrons if they are uncomfortable around: Blacks, Hispanics, Asians, Gays, Bisexuals, Transgender, Pregnant women, Obese People, Little People, Old People, Young People, etc and if they are we will have a separate area for them to shop in, a separate area for them to checkout and complete their transactions, heck lets even throw in separate bathrooms and water fountains.....Oh wait we tried that once in America, how did that turn out again?

ColdHardTruth
ColdHardTruth

I knew Cori very well before he decided to change. From the 3rd grade til now. Around the time of the change, and ever since, all he/she ever talks about is gender and how unfair the world will be, and currently is to people like him/her. Obsessively he/she rants and truly makes even me, a good friend at one time, highly uncomfortable. I can see how this would be hard to work with or also effect his/her job performance! I'm a man married with kids, but I don't have to talk about my sexuality/gender in everybody's face as if its my God-given mission in life to point out my gender "choice". The whole thing smells of illegitimacy in one way or another. Just an observer's highly educated on the situation's opinion.

Dons supporters
Dons supporters

Thank you for sharing your story

getreal1986
getreal1986

I'm sorry but what you are saying has little to no value in my opinion. Its great that you "know her" but in the end you don't support her lifestyle and her changes and cannot handle being a friend to her so you cut ties. There are people in every place you go in the world that you will not agree with nor will you support their lifestyle. The only way that I would consider this to be a valid point would be if she was making advances toward coworkers or shoppers. Which this would be then a sexual harrassment issue and this would be a valid reason to fire someone. Some people are over the top, you have to learn to deal with that. People come in all shapes sizes and are all different. If you dont like what someone has to talk about, you don't associate yourself with them. As an employer you cannot fire someone for who they are. Someone obsessed with talking about their children, their pets, their religion etc would not be let go. Someone could find that annoying and feel uncomfortable.

Observer
Observer

"Its great that you "know her" but in the end you don't support her lifestyle and her changes and cannot handle being a friend to her so you cut ties."

" If you dont like what someone has to talk about, you don't associate yourself with them."


In one sentence you vilify this person and in the next you justify their actions (p.s. this is the reason they cut ties as stated in their post) which one is it.

getreal1986
getreal1986

The point I was making is... If you don't like what a person talks about or are about don't speak to them. You will never like all the people you work with. In no way, does this persons statement justify the decision of ending her employment.

Also... There is a difference between saying you "know" someone when you actually "know of them" This person did not know the real Cori. Its their right to decide to walk away I support that.That again would be personal differences you choose your friends not your coworkers or the people that work at the local grocercy store you shop at. Attempting to say they "know" her and stating that she is obsessed with this life change and that they are sure it was something that affected her work performance would not be something I would consider to be highly educated on the subject.

Roger Cornelius
Roger Cornelius

There is always two sides to a story, and then there is the truth!

snow54
snow54

its offensive for a man dressed as a woman to be using the same girls bathroom as my little 5 year old daughter..at the same time..i

Dani86
Dani86

Great point!

Dani86
Dani86

My Great point comment was for Snow!
This full grown MAN in his late 20's and just decided he wants to be a female? Hmmmmmm
Just throwing it out there that Cori was a man with man parts and needs! This is where it becomes unaccepectable to share a bathroom!!!!!!!


Just

Adam
Adam

Are you somehow trying to say that this female in a partially male body may have some disease that could spread from a toilet seat and infect your child? Sounds like the same mentality that existed during segregation in the South. Being homosexual or transgendered is not a disease, and is not a choice. Neither are related to sexual molesters which statistically are heterosexuals, so if thats what you may have been insinuating, please educate yourself.

Roger Cornelius
Roger Cornelius

Seriously, how often has that happened.

Not long ago I was in a large public restroom. A young man came in with two young daughters that had to use the facilities. Obviously he was a single father or alone shopping with them, all the men in the restroom were respectful and courteous to them, not a word was spoken.

Carter M Michaels
Carter M Michaels

Payday!

Marlyn
Marlyn

There are always two sides to every story. Please don't be closed minded and believe everything negative that you read. My daughter worked at Don's for 6 years and during this time she worked with "Cori", long before the transgender issue came up. Cori had other issues before the physical change and was not always a team player as a co worker!! Don has done a great deal for our community since opening Don's Valley Market. He is a huge supporter of our schools, PTA and school sports. He employees many high school students and teaches them how to be responsible young adults. He works with their schedules if time off is needed for sports, school activities and family functions. He is a good man, great family man and a respected supporter of our community.

Dons supporters
Dons supporters

Amen!

Rhudedog
Rhudedog

Never mind that sexual identity disorder is a serious mental illness still even to the liberal APA, I guess employers no longer have the right to express their faith and to maintain deeply held religious convictions about homosexuality and related issues

Roger Cornelius
Roger Cornelius

This is new one! Sexual identity disorder is a serious mental illness, where'd that diagnosis come from, your pastor?

I've never heard anyone, let alone a liberal, call sexual identity a mental disorder.

Adam
Adam

Completely false, sexual identity (gender identity disorder) GID is not a mental illness and has been removed from the DSM. In DSM-5 there is such a thing as Gender Dysphoria which is also not a mental illness. Religious beliefs are private, and should be keep as such. If you want to go religious on this issue, go read your bible, and I am sure it will teach you that being a bigot is un-christian. If your Catholic, listen to what the Pope has recently said, his values reflect that of society not of the few who have lost their way.

Chevitz
Chevitz

First off, gender identity and transgender have no direct connection to homosexuality so please do not fall into the common act of lumping the two together. They are mutually exclusive of one another. Second, you have the right to have your religious convictions and abide by them but as a business owner or employer you have no right to push that faith on your employees or make decisions to hire and fire based on it. That is the exact reason that this case was settled the way it was and the reason that laws like this exist. Your religious and/or personal convictions are not a basis to fire an employee.

Dani86
Dani86

Don is a wonderful, great man and would NEVER do anything intentionally to hurt someone!

Hairy Cannonball
Hairy Cannonball

And the rights of business owners are where anymore??

Roger Cornelius
Roger Cornelius

It is one thing to advocate business owner rights, it is quite another to exhibit their responsibility.

During Senator Rand Pauls' campaign, he proposed getting rid of the Civil Rights Commission because business owners should be able refuse service to anyone for any reason.

Adam
Adam

Due to this state being such a weak union state and a "right to work" state, employers abuse their rights everyday. Bigotry has no place in society,so get up with the times.

Roger Cornelius
Roger Cornelius

If Cori was a bad employee, why wasn't that the reason given?

Apparently Don's Valley Market made it clear to her that she was being fired for being transgender and not being a bad employee. If Don's had just cause, that would have been their defense. They did not have grounds to fight her accusations.

Roger Cornelius
Roger Cornelius

In the legal world of civil law, a settlement by either the plaintiff or the defendant is considered an admission of guilt, whether they admit it or not.

A cash settlement by either party is the apology.

Chevitz
Chevitz

A conciliation agreement is a settlement or compromise agreement between a regulatory agency and an individual or entity charged with violating rules, regulations, or laws. The agreement evidences an acknowledgment of past wrongdoing and an intention to correct the consequences of the past actions and to desist from future violations.

PCisOC
PCisOC

A person, transgender or not, dosn't get fired for being a good employee. Just because her attorney says she performed her job successfully doesn't make it the truth. One sided story.

Chevitz
Chevitz

Yes because if it truly were a case of performance issues and not her transitioning they would have settled instead of pursuing it as a case of performance based firing. If they had the proof to back that up, it would have gone to court, not being settled outside of it. And to those who say that Don had no way of defending himself. He was asked by many other news outlets (as this was not just a locally reported story) for his comment, to which he simply stated he’ll comply with the terms of the settlement, but declined further comment. See also
http://www.washingtonblade.com/2013/09/16/s-d-transgender-worker-wins-50k-bias-settlement/

RCMomof3
RCMomof3

Exactly!!!

Roger Cornelius
Roger Cornelius

If the Rapid City Journal is pushing an agenda of American Equality, by all means keep pushing.

Actually, I don't think the Journal was pushing any agenda, they simply reported an important story and anybody that read the story and thinks otherwise is showing their fear.

Freedome
Freedome

Businesses now days have to be so careful not to make customers mad because of the internet. The internet can cause them to shut the doors from people complaining about stuff that is true or not as this has happened in Rapid City before.

Now this employee would have to have a few months off for this sex change that is not like getting a couple weeks off for having a baby. As a business that counts on a manager it is hard to hire a new one for just a few months when stores now days have so much trouble finding people that even show up for work.

Now they are not saying all the reasons this person was fired, people now days are suing businesses every day for any reason just to get money. This is just a compliant that is not telling us the whole story because of the agreement made won't allow the whole story to be made public as most settlement cases are that way. This story should have not been in the newspaper to begin with because Don cannot defend himself or tell the whole story.

RCMomof3
RCMomof3

Not admitting to any wrongdoing? Really? I am a MOM of 3 young children that has shopped at Dons regularly since they opened in the Valley. I can tell you what this MOM thinks. I will not be stepping foot in that store again. I have zero respect for bigotry and teach my children that all people should be treated equally. No way will I support a store that discriminates. Shame on you Don Turner!

Rebecca_11
Rebecca_11

You are only getting one side of the story. Shame on you for judging a good man! He hires so many people, he rehires people he has fired even after they have wronged him. This was not all about "protecting his investment" or about Cori being a transgender. Have you thought that maybe she wasn't doing her job well and it's unfortunate that she was let go around the time of starting her transistor. Get both sides before you call someone a bigot. Shame on you for being closed minded, that's a good thing to teach your 3 young children.

RCMomof3
RCMomof3

Why in the world would he pay someone $50,000 if that person was terminated for valid reasons? If he did nothing wrong, he should be able to prove that- there would be documentation for the termination with the credible reasons. You don't pay someone off when you are innocent. Are you his wife or something? I've seen you posting all over every article about this story. Good men don't fire employees for making other people uncomfortable and then pay them off to shut them up.

Rebecca_12
Rebecca_12

Judging by the fact you've seen my posting and are following the story so intently I'm going to assume you're a friend of Cori's. And no I am not Don's wife, I worked at the store with Cori and saw first hand what was going on. How do you expect a small business owner to go up against a large cooperation like the EEOC? It would've cost him more to try to fight than to just settle. You're still only getting one side of the story and if you're fine with that then that's on you. Judging is judging, ah tats what you're teaching your children.

RCMomof3
RCMomof3

I have never met Cori in my life, nor have I ever stated anything of the sort. I do, however, have several gay friends and family members and I am sick of the treatment and discrimination that I have personally witnessed. $50,000 is the maximum settlement allowable for businesses with fewer than 100 employees. Why would he pay the maximum amount if there was no wrongdoing on his part? Why not a lesser amount? He would not have to "go up against a big corporation like the EEOC" if he could present the proper paperwork documenting the termination with valid reasons! There would be no case and the EEOC would not be able to pursue it without grounds. That is a fact. Call it judgement if it makes you feel better. I know better.

Dons supporters
Dons supporters

Do you teach them to judge people equally as well or do you teach them that is for God to do? Just curious.

snowflake
snowflake

Again, the Journal is pushing an agenda.

Chevitz
Chevitz

Yes, I applaud the Rapid City Journal for pushing an agenda of EQUALITY amongst all area citizens and reporting on stories that reflect the WRONGS that small town Middle America politics and views place on the "different" people who live in "their" communities. So thank you RCJ for reporting on how some of the close-minded wrongs that occur in the lives of any group in our community are righted. Discrimination is discrimination and there is no hidden agenda being pushed on you by anyone snowflake; it is simply America changing and coming to their senses about equality for all.

Gma4
Gma4

We have heard one side of the story. Maybe she got so caught up in being transgender that she forgot to do her job. Maybe she was warned numerous times. Maybe its not fair to the small business to either have their business suffer or take a chance on being sued. Maybe when we are at work, we should just be good employees and do our jobs and when we are on our own time we can be transgendered or whatever.

matyowambo
matyowambo

Be transgendered on our own time? Are you sure that you understand what it means to be transgender in this person's case? If you're a man going to a woman then you are most likely taking hormones that will cause you to develop breasts. The ultimate goal (in most cases) is to get an operation to change the male reproductive organ into that of a female. It isn't something that you can just be "on your own time."

Plus, being a good employee and being a transgendered person are certainly not mutually exclusive.

I would agree though that it is possible that this person was fired for reasons other than being a transgendered person. That isn't something we can really prove from the story either way.

Chevitz
Chevitz

Oh, so if it were an African American person who was making people uncomfortable they should just be an employee at work and African American at home? Your logic is incredible.

Roger Cornelius
Roger Cornelius

There are an awful lot of "maybe's" in your comment.

As far as I know, "maybe's" are not usually the basis for termination.

Gma4
Gma4

I stand by my point. Maybe, and we will never truely know, when she was at work it was all about being transgenedered,maybe it was all she could talk about,maybe she brought it up to customers, I'm just saying that when someone is paying us a wage that we should go to work and be an employee. Be who you are! But when your at work be a paid employee first.

Adam
Adam

What agenda, for once they are actually doing their journalistic responsibility. Bigotry, prejudice, hatred are all wrong and 100% unacceptable.

SoDak4Life
SoDak4Life

Good for her! Even though not everyone will agree with get decision to live her life that way it's wrong to discriminate her for it. And yes, "What would moms think?" What would they think if their child was treated in that manor. Everyone deserves to be happy above all. Straight, gay, bisexual, transgendered, far, skinny, tall, short, ect. I hope you continue your fight for everyone that is unable to.

Born2fish
Born2fish

YIKES!!!

Observer
Observer

I don't couldn't care less about this story, but that outfit. Ouch.

ScreamingEagle
ScreamingEagle

I am sorry Don's Valley Market had to deal with such an unpleasant situation. They are a good business with a good reputation providing a valuable service to the community. Every grocery store has to throw out a few rotten eggs and do what is important for the business and the community. I support your decision to clean house. I am sorry it cost you $50K.

ttpilot
ttpilot

Rotten eggs? Was this person a bad employee? By your logic, they could brand Native employees as "rotten eggs," gay people as "rotten eggs," or any other group you wish to target. This was discrimination plain and simple.

whosthatbrown
whosthatbrown

I'm sorry you hold such unpleasant, close-minded ideals. If someone is a good employee, what does it matter who they are or what they do in their personal life?

Rebecca_11
Rebecca_11

What does matter is how they're doing at their job, and you don't know that side of the story...

Adam
Adam

Bigotry is unacceptable, educate yourself.

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