Federal agency to meet with judge on transgender settlement issues

Kelli Keawe
Kelli Keawe

A case that began over what bathroom a transgender state employee can use has taken another legal twist, this time with a federal agency being asked meet with a judge.

KHON2 has been following for months.

Last week a judge denied a state effort to force the transgender employee to sign a settlement agreement, and now there are many more issues at stake include the concerns of a federal employment rights watchdog.

Kelli Keawe, a Department of Public Safety employee sued the state after years of being banned from the women’s room.

She can use it now.

When it came time to finalize and write out a settlement deal, the state tried to change the terms and asked the court to force Keawe to sign it.

The judge said no.

After back and forth behind closed doors discussions at the courthouse on Thursday more parties are being called to the table — this time the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or EEOC.

“As a result of other new claims that have arisen since then, the opportunity has come up to try to resolve things all at once. I think that is a good thing for the state, it’s a good thing for Kelli, and it’s a good thing for the EEOC.” Keawe’s attorney Peter Hsieh said.

“I think after all we went through I think things will probably get better. It’s just a matter of if we can all come to an agreement,” Kelli Keawe said.

The bathroom assignment and workplace bullying that allegedly followed has caught the attention of the EEOC. Even if Keawe settles a lawsuit, that can’t force the EEOC to look the other way.

The initial settlement would have cost the state $35,000.

The federal matters, and hostility at work that Keawe said continued, could end up costing far more.

Keawe says its not about the money, it’s about fairness, and making sure something like this doesn’t happen to anyone else.


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