Mimi Culcleasure is a security offer and SEIU Local 6 member in Seattle, Washington, and was tired of enduring homophobic slurs and other offensive comments directed at her and some of her female coworkers on the job. That’s why she is telling U.S. Supreme Court justices that all working people need to be respected at work. Next year the Supreme Court will decide whether civil rights law protects people from being discriminated against because they are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender – or if someone thinks they are, whether or not that perception is accurate.
Mimi works in a profession where males outnumber females 4 to 1, and she and some of her coworkers who don’t present themselves in a traditionally feminine way have been subjected to derogatory taunts that imply that they are lesbians. Some of her female coworkers were even bullied into dressing and behaving in a more traditionally feminine manner just to escape this harassment. When Title VII of the Civil Rights Act was signed into law, its intent was to “strike at the entire spectrum of disparate treatment of men and women resulting from sex stereotypes.” SEIU and the other organizations supporting Mimi believe that “sex stereotypes” include sexual preferences and gender identity - and thus should be covered by Title VII. “I want to help insure that all employees are safe and respected at work, regardless of whether their appearances conform with traditional sex stereotypes,” Mimi said.
Mimi is also a shop steward at her local, and is a shining example of how unions can help working people win much more than just better pay and benefits (something she’s been intimately involved with as well). She knows that when working people join together with a unified voice, they can fight back against all manner of injustices, and she strives to bring this message to not-yet-union security officers in her area. “For all the security officers out there, don’t be afraid to join the union. We are here to help protect and fight for our fellow officers. If you are being unfairly treated, if you need something, we are here for you,” she says.
Read Mimi’s story and the stories of other working people making their case to the Supreme Court.