A Jeld-Wen attorney has said the company supports a transgender person’s right to use the restroom of their choice as the manufacturer fights a union grievance challenging this position.
The grievance was filed in Wisconsin.
In a pair of emails leaked Monday to local media, Associate General Counsel Eric Martin said Jeld-Wen, which has production sites in Klamath Falls and across Oregon, believes forcing a transgender employee to use a restroom that does not correspond with their gender identity is a violation of federal law and company policy.
“External genitalia are but one component of sex and are not always determinative,” said Martin.
“Let me be perfectly clear,” he continued. “Transgender men are men. They live and work as men. Transgender women are women. They live and work as women.”
The emails were sent Friday and Monday to Paul Cloer, representative for Carpenter’s Industrial Council (CIC). Cloer represents Sharon Slack, an employee of Jeld-Wen’s facility in Hawkins, Wis., who filed the grievance March 8 and leaked the emails Monday.
A bill aiming to regulate the use of restrooms by transgender persons in Wisconsin is being discussed by state legislators, while the topic is a point of ongoing national debate.
Slack’s grievance said an unnamed employee at her facility was using “the opposite restroom” and this made Slack “feel uncomfortable.” She requested the company require employees to use restrooms that correspond with their genitalia, or install a room specific to transgender employees.
Martin said Slack’s grievance identified no violation of the union contract and was inactionable and asked Cloer to drop the matter.
According to Martin’s emails, Cloer continued to pursue the grievance including requests for the birth certificate of the transgender employee in question and a copy of their employment application, among other information.
Martin told Cloer the company does not have employee birth certificates on file and said they still do not know the identify of the employee because Slack did not include this in her grievance.
Martin said Jeld-Wen was “putting (Cloer) on notice” that, if the union discriminated against or harassed any employees, Jeld-Wen would seek legal remedies and inform the employee of their legal rights.
Martin then asked Cloer to provide CIC’s policies and procedures regarding bathroom use, to identify all transgender employees working for CIC, to provide copies of sexual discrimination complaints filed against CIC, and other information similar to what Cloer requested of Jeld-Wen.
When asked for a statement Monday, Jeld-Wen spokesperson Stefanie Week said the company does not comment on ongoing litigation.
CIC did not return a request for comment.