Michigan salon owner referred potential trans clients to pet groomer

by WorldTribune Staff, November 16, 2023

A Michigan salon owner who said she had no interest in “the woke dollar” is fighting a charge of discrimination filed by the state’s Department of Civil Rights over a social media post in which she referred anyone identifying as other than a man or a woman to a pet groomer.

Studio 8 Hair Lab owner Christine Geiger

The department claims in the charge filed Wednesday that Traverse City’s Studio 8 Hair Lab violated the state’s civil rights act in a Facebook post in July from its owner, Christine Geiger, by unlawfully discriminating against three claimants.

The post, which is no longer available, read: “If a human identifies as anything other than a man/woman please seek services at a local pet groomer. You are not welcome at this salon. Period. Should you request to have a particular pronoun used please note we may simply refer to you as ‘hey you.’ ”

In another post, Geiger said the “LGB” of the LGBTQ community were welcome, but “the rest of it is not something I support.”

A hearing will now be scheduled before an administrative law judge, who will issue a recommendation after hearing the merits of the complaint, according to the civil rights department.

Penalties, according to the complaint, could include monetary compensation for the claimants’ emotional distress and mental anguish sustained by the alleged discrimination. The department allows for any other relief “as the commission seems just and proper,” which could include additional fees and a recommendation that the business’ license be suspended.

On Oct. 25, Geiger filed her own complaint against the city of Traverse City and the three individuals. The complaint accuses the city and three of its residents of violating the salon’s First Amendment rights for filing civil rights complaints, according to the lawsuit obtained by The Associated Press.

Geiger’s attorney, David DeLaney, told AP that salon owner was exercising her right to free speech and that the comments reflected her “religious beliefs.” He added that Geiger never physically blocked anyone from entering her business.

In a July interview with AP, Geiger stood by her posts and said small business owners should be free to serve whomever they wish.

“I just don’t want the woke dollar. … I’d rather not be as busy than to have to do services that I don’t agree with,” she said.

There is no complaint or proof that Geiger actually turned away customers, the Department of Civil Rights said, but the law allows the department to pursue charges based on discriminatory advertisements alone.

“It has absolutely nothing do with our First Amendment rights,” said department Director John E. Johnson Jr. “That is a red herring designed to grab and divert our attention away from the real violations of law and Christine Geiger’s responsibilities under law as the owner of a business offering services to the public in the state of Michigan.

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