FARGO – A transgender woman who alleges she was denied access to a women's locker room while working at Sanford Health has filed a discrimination suit against the hospital.
Faye Seidler, a Fargo resident, began hormone therapy in September 2013 as part of her transition from a male identity to a female one, according to federal court documents.
Seidler took a job at Sanford in spring 2014, and at the time she was presenting as a man. About three months later, she told her employer she was going to start presenting as a woman, court documents stated.
Seidler claims she requested access to the women's locker room in November 2014, but Sanford management only allowed her to use the men's locker room. She made two similar requests in December 2014 to no avail, court documents stated.
In January 2015, a Sanford supervisor sent an email to other employees "expressing exasperation" with Seidler's request to be treated as a woman, court documents stated.
The next month, Seidler phoned Sanford management to complain about the unequal treatment and was told that "things take time," court documents said. She eventually quit in spring 2015 because she felt she couldn't keep working in such an environment.
The suit calls for an unspecified amount of compensation and a judge's order requiring Sanford to establish policies and practices to prevent discrimination against transgender employees.
Sanford was notified of the suit Wednesday through a court summons. In a statement, hospital spokesman Darren Huber said, "Sanford's employment policies prohibit discrimination of any kind including discrimination based on sexual orientation. Sanford will respond and defend against this lawsuit."
Huber noted that the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission dismissed a complaint from Seidler in September, saying it was "unable to conclude that the information obtained establishes violations of the statutes" enforced by the EEOC.
Seidler's attorney, Joshua Newville, said the EEOC's dismissal has no bearing on the suit, given that the agency is overworked and dismissed complaints often prevail in court.