According to a recent post by Liberty Counsel, a former department store employee was allegedly terminated from her job at a San Antonio Macy’s after refusing to allow a cross-dressing male to change in the women’s fitting room.
While Macy’s does have an LGBT-friendly policy that allows transgender customers to use either the men’s or women’s fitting rooms as the individual deems most appropriate, the former employee, Natalie Johnson, argued that Macy’s also has a policy in place that protects her religious rights — and that those rights would have been violated had she been forced to admit that the cross-dresser was a female.
Liberty Counsel explains in further detail:
Natalie Johnson claims she saw the young man walk out of the women’s fitting room and politely told him that he could not go back in because it was for women only. The cross-dressing young man claimed that he is a “female.” Johnson said that he was wearing make-up and girl’s clothing, but clearly he was a male. The cross-dresser was accompanied by five other individuals. The group argued with expletives that Macy’s is LGBT-friendly, to which Johnson replied that Macy’s is also non-discriminatory toward religion, and that it would go against her religious beliefs to lie that he was a woman or compromise with homosexuality. The group then demanded to speak with a manager.
When Johnson was confronted by her employer, she explained that she could not allow a male to change in a female’s fitting room. Johnson’s boss referred her to Macy’s LGBT policy which allows “transgender” people to change in any dressing room they want. However, Johnson pointed out that the same policy also protects against religious discrimination and, in this case, it protects her right to her beliefs that were being violated. The manager demanded that she comply with the LGBT policies or lose her job. Johnson refused to go against her sincerely held religious beliefs and was terminated from her job.
Perhaps a way around the problem would have been for Johnson to ask a coworker to fill in for her in this instance. Another employee could have taken over her fitting room duties for the duration of time that the transgender or cross-dressing customer was present. By doing so, Johnson would not have been placed in a position where she felt her beliefs were being compromised, while still upholding the company’s policy as it concerns transgender customers.
On the other hand, Macy’s is operating two distinct policies — one regarding religious rights, the other regarding gay and lesbian rights — that will often prove incompatible with one another. The company faces serious challenges ahead as it runs the risk of creating both disgruntled employees and customers alike, leaving the department store chain open to public relations issues and worse still, potential legal action.
What say you?
Editors Note: LGBT is an acronym for “Lesbian, Gay, Bi-Sexual and Transgender.” It is used to refer to the entire community as a whole, and in place of terms like “gay community.”