The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Iowa filed a complaint on Wednesday with the Iowa Civil Rights Commission on behalf of a long-time Iowa Department of Corrections employee who was not permitted to use the bathroom associated with his gender identity.
Jesse Vroegh, a nurse, was denied access to the men's bathrooms and locker rooms at work and was instructed to use a unisex restroom. This unisex facility, according to an ACLU statement, did not have a shower like the other bathrooms and isolated Vroegh from is co-workers.
"All Iowans are entitled to fair and equal treatment in the workplace, including those who are transgender. The state should be setting an example by creating a work environment that is free from discrimination on the basis of gender identity," said Rita Bettis, ACLU of Iowa legal director. "But here the state has done just the opposite, violating our client's rights to nondiscrimination in employment under the Iowa Civil Rights Act and equal protection under the Iowa Constitution."
Like Bettis, Vroegh blasted the Iowa Department of Corrections for not setting an example for other employers, and he said he hopes his complaint sends a message.
"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."
A spokesman for the corrections department told the Associated Press "the department strongly focuses to protect and treat with respect the public, staff and offenders," though he would not comment specifically on Vroegh's complaint.