A transgender man in Illinois has filed a complaint with the state Human Rights Department against retail giant Walmart, alleging he was denied service on two separate occasions because of his gender identity.
Skyler Hyatt, 36, claims he was discriminated against two separate times because employees at two different Walmart stores — in Lawrenceville and Olney — refused to allow him to cash a money order because the female name on his license did not match his gender presentation.
While Hyatt has corrected the gender marker on his Illinois driver’s license to reflect his male gender identity, he has been unable to afford the process of legally changing his name under state law. Even though the picture on his ID is up-to-date, showing him with a short haircut and facial hair, workers at the stores would not allow him to cash the money order, due to his female “deadname” still being on his license.
According to the complaint, a Walmart supervisor at the Lawrenceville Supercenter allegedly looked at the money order and Hyatt’s state ID, rolled her eyes, and “made a face of disgust” before denying service to Hyatt.
Two days later, Hyatt and his wife traveled to another Walmart Supercenter in Olney, but was told by an employee that they could not cash the money order because it had been “red-flagged.”
The following day, Hyatt and his wife opened a new account at a local bank in Sumner, Illinois, where a bank employee told them that Walmart’s reason for turning them away did not make sense, especially since all of Hyatt’s identity documents matched and Illinois law prohibits discrimination based on gender identity.
“In the days after talking to the bank employee, I began to think that I needed to tell my story,” Hyatt said in a statement. “A lot of young people — young, transgender people — will rely on a place like Walmart to process their first paycheck or a gift from a family member. I don’t want them to go through this sort of discrimination.”
In a news release issued by the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois, Hyatt expressed frustration at the treatment he received at the chain store’s locations.
“What should have been a simple transaction turned into an embarrassing and painful experience,” he said in a statement after filing the complaint with the Illinois Department of Human Rights. “Transgender people like me exist in every corner of Illinois. And many of us depend on services from stores like Walmart to navigate life without outing ourselves at every turn.
“As a corporation that claims to support LGBTQ rights across the country, my hope is that Walmart can make sure that no other transgender person experiences this discrimination again,” Wyatt added.
A Walmart spokesperson told The Hill that the company is taking Hyatt’s complaint “seriously.”
Walmart does not “tolerate discrimination of any kind,” the spokesperson said. “We will respond to the claim as appropriate.”
Hyatt’s complaint is one of several legal challenges the retail giant has faced alleging that they have discriminated against transgender employees based on their gender identity.
In December, a trans former employee sued the company for failing to act when co-workers and managers repeatedly used her deadname in conversations about her and on official documents.
In 2018, Walmart settled a lawsuit brought by a former employee in North Carolina who claimed she had been fired in retaliation for complaining to her supervisors about on-the-job harassment at the hands of her co-workers.
A year earlier, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission sided with a transgender female worker at Sam’s Club, a subsidiary of Walmart, finding she had been denied health care and employment opportunities because of her gender identity. That finding, as well as other complaints alleging anti-transgender discrimination led the Human Rights Campaign to suspend the company’s perfect rating on its Corporate Equality Index later that year.
These are challenging times for news organizations. And yet it’s crucial we stay active and provide vital resources and information to both our local readers and the world. So won’t you please take a moment and consider supporting Metro Weekly with a membership? For as little as $5 a month, you can help ensure Metro Weekly magazine and MetroWeekly.com remain free, viable resources as we provide the best, most diverse, culturally-resonant LGBTQ coverage in both the D.C. region and around the world. Memberships come with exclusive perks and discounts, your own personal digital delivery of each week’s magazine (and an archive), access to our Member's Lounge when it launches this fall, and exclusive members-only items like Metro Weekly Membership Mugs and Tote Bags! Check out all our membership levels here and please join us today!