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EEOC sues rental chain that fired transgender worker

EEOC sues rental chain that fired transgender worker

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has filed suit against Plano, Texas-based Rent-A-Center Inc. in connection with its termination of a transgender employee in its Rantoul, Illinois, store.

The EEOC said in a statement Tuesday that the company's managers disapproved of the employee's gender transition and found a pretext for firing her.

The company said in a statement the termination was in fact because of the unauthorized use of a company truck for personal use.

The agency, which said it filed suit after first attempting to reach a prelitigation settlement, is charging the firm with violating Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

“All people deserve the opportunity to earn a living and be judged on the quality of their work, rather than on sex-based considerations,” said John Hendrickson, the EEOC's regional attorney in Chicago, in the statement. “That includes transgender employees, and the EEOC is committed to making sure such individuals' rights under Title VII are protected.”

The company said in a statement, “As a company, Rent-A-Center embraces diversity and acceptance, and we have zero tolerance for discrimination. Our diverse and inclusive culture is reflected in our coworkers.

“This particular coworker admitted to coming to the store on a Sunday, while the store was closed, and taking the company truck, without permission, for personal use.

“If this coworker had been involved in an accident while driving a large truck and had injured anyone, it could have been catastrophic, and the company could have been held legally responsible. That is why Rent-A-Center has a policy that prohibits the use of company vehicles for any personal use. This coworker's employment was terminated for violating established policy.

“Gender did not play any role in this employment decision. All coworkers are held to the same standard when it comes to violating this policy.

“It should also be noted that this coworker never made a complaint about any discrimination while working for the company. The EEOC is aware of all these facts, yet the EEOC demanded money to settle the matter; however, Rent-A-Center refused to engage in any settlement discussions with the EEOC.”

Officials from 11 states have filed a lawsuit against the Obama administration in response to its position in favor of civil rights for transgender individuals.

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