Transgender bathroom controversy hits JELD-WEN
June 1, 2016 | 12:38 pm CDT


HAWKINS, Wis. - JELD-WEN has denied a grievance filed by a female employee contesting the window and door company's policy which allows a transgender person to use the bathroom of choice.

According to an article in the Herald and News, the grievance was filed in March by Sharon Slack, a shop steward at the company's manufacturing facility in Hawkins, Wisconsin, who said employees shouldn't be made to "feel uncomfortable" with a transgender employee using the "opposite restroom." The article by H&N's  Stephen Floyd notes Slack's grievance demanded that employees be required to use the one which corresponded to their genitalia or that a transgender-specific bathroom be installed.

Calling it "unfounded and improper" JELD-WEN said the grievance not only neglected to identify the section in the Collective Bargaining Agreement that was allegedly violated, but that complying with Slack's request would violate company policy as well as Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.

Headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina, JELD-WEN employs approximately 20,000 people worldwide and has manufacturing and distribution locations across the United States and in more than 20 countries.

In an email obtained by H&N and sent May 20 from Eric Martin, associate general counsel for JELD-WEN, to Paul Cloer of the Carpenter's Industrial Council, which is representing Slack, Martin writes:

"An individual's sex consists of multiple factors, which may not always be in alignment." He adds, "Let me be perfectly clear. Transgender men are men. They live and work as men. Transgender women are women. They live and work as women. We have no intent of becoming the bathroom police simply because some anonymous individual cannot accept the fact and feels 'uncomfortable.'

"Are you prepared to show your birth certificate before using the bathrooms in our facility? Are you willing to require that all of your union members do so?"

A follow-up email from Martin on May 23 and posted on H&N's website, indicated that JELD-WEN would take action before the NRLB and in court should the union attempt to harass or discriminate against any company employee. The company also stated its refusal to provide a birth certificate and employment application for the transgender employee, saying it does not collect employee birth certificates, that the grievance failed to identify the transgender employee in question and that JELD-WEN does not track employee gender identity.

Demanding fair play, "so that the company may properly contest your grievance," Martin requested the union in turn provide: "all policies and procedures regarding bathroom use maintained by the Carpenter's Industrial Council (CIC), its locals and parent unions;" identify transgender employees working for CIC; and to identify CIC bathrooms and their gender designation. The email also requested that CIC state whether it complied with the state's equality act and to provide any sexual discrimination or harassment complaints made against the union.


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About the author
Karen Koenig | Editor

Karen M. Koenig has more than 30 years of experience in the woodworking industry, including visits to wood products manufacturing facilities throughout North America, Europe and Asia. As editor of special publications under the Woodworking Network brand, including the Red Book Best Practices resource guide and website, Karen’s responsibilities include writing, editing and coordinating of editorial content. She is also a contributor to FDMC and other Woodworking Network online and print media owned by CCI Media. She can be reached at