Employment Commission: Cabela’s Likely Discriminated Against Transgender Employee

Cabela’s store in Hamburg, Pennsylvania, where Kate Lynn Blatt worked. CREDIT: CABELAS.COM
Cabela’s store in Hamburg, Pennsylvania, where Kate Lynn Blatt worked. CREDIT: CABELAS.COM

The federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has determined that Cabela’s, an outdoors and sporting goods store, likely discriminated a transgender employee at its Pennsylvania store. According to the Philadelphia Gay News, the EEOC made its determination back in March.

Kate Lynn Blatt has been fighting Cabela’s for seven years now. She similarly won a favorable ruling from the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission back in 2010. Both commissions found that Blatt was probably discriminated against because of the way she was treated — in particular, because she was denied access to the women’s restroom.

Blatt was hired as she was in the process of transitioning. She had to fight with management at Cabela’s for permission even just to wear a female uniform and to obtain an appropriate nametag spelling her name correctly. After she presented a court order stating that her name is Kate Lynn Blatt and her gender is female, her supervisors still refused to allow her to use the women’s restroom until she provided medical documentation of her “anatomically appropriate gender.” Instead, she was forced to use a unisex restroom that was on a different floor on the opposite side of the 250,000 sq. ft. showroom. Not only was the unisex “non-hygienic and unsanitary,” but the schlep to get to it made her feel like she was “on parade.”

According to the EEOC decision, it was unlawful for Cabela’s to inquire about Blatt’s medical history or “to subject her to any medical or visual examination as a pre-condition to use the women’s restroom. Requiring this type of documentation is a form of discrimination.”

The EEOC issued a right-to-sue letter last month, so her attorney is now preparing her official suit in federal court. Blatt says that she has been “surviving, but certainly not thriving” and is continuing to seek gainful employment.

Pennsylvania does not offer any state-wide nondiscrimination protections for LGBT workers.