Fargo, N.D. (AP) – Attorneys for a Fargo hospital say a lawsuit brought by a transgender employee alleging discrimination in the workplace has no merit and should be dismissed.
Faye Seidler, who was born as a male and identifies as a female, said in a federal lawsuit filed last month that Sanford Medical Center violated her civil rights. She is seeking unspecified damages and an order to stop the hospital from discriminating against employees who have undergone or are undergoing a gender transition.
Managers, Seidler said in court documents, did not treat her fairly and she was wrongly denied access to the women’s locker rooms. She resigned in March 2015, about a year after she started work as a technician.
Hospital attorneys said in a response that the company made a good-faith effort to address Seidler’s complaints and was working on giving her access to the women’s locker room before she quit.
“Management also instructed all supervisors to watch for any potentially harassing conduct and no harassing conduct was observed,” the response said.
The hospital also said that shortly before Seidler quit, she was informed that she had taken more than 112 hours of unplanned time off and was warned that one more absence would result in her firing. The defense document said Seidler’s reasons for her resignation were the attendance policy, a system that did not recognize or reward people for contributions, and the lack of a specific transgender policy at the hospital.
Defense attorneys said the company has a “strong non-discrimination policy and a well-defined attendance policy already in place” and managers “instructed all supervisors to watch for any potentially harassing conduct and no harassing conduct was observed.”
Seidler’s attorney, Joshua Newville, did not immediately respond to an email request for comment. Newville said that a hospital policy barring discrimination based on sexual orientation shows a “continued misunderstanding” of transgender individuals.
“This case isn’t about sexual orientation. It’s about gender,” Newville said. “It is my sincere hope that this lawsuit will – at a bare minimum – encourage employers to make a more sincere and concerted effort to more fully understand these issues in order to prevent workplace discrimination.”