A transgender nurse working at a prison hospital was denied the right to use the male bathroom after being doused in pepper spray.
At the Iowa Correctional Institute for Women, Jesse Vroegh was completing a training exercise where staff members were covered in pepper spray.
"All staff were allowed to shower immediately afterward to remove the chemical agent,’ Vroegh wrote in his complaint. "Because my employer has denied me access to the men’s shower facilities made available to other male employees, I could not shower to remove the chemical agent until I got home."p>After, Vroegh faced painful ongoing headaches and had to seek medical treatment.
The American Civil Liberties Union filed a complaint with the Iowa Civil Rights Commission because of this incident.
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Vroegh has been working at ICIW for seven years, and he announced his transition to his employer in March 2014.
Despite attempts to encourage trans-friendly policies, nothing was done by his employer.
Later, Vroegh approached Warden Patti Wachtendorf, Medical Director Dr. Harbans Deol and Union Representative Todd Givens, to request the use of single-sex spaces.
Vroegh was denied.
‘Rather than setting a good example for other Iowa employers, the state has denied me the use of gendered spaces as well as the health insurance coverage I need, simply because I am transgender," Vroegh said in a statement. "I hope my fight for fairness in the workplace will make a difference for the many other transgender people who have faced similar discrimination at work."