HRC Blog

Federal Agency Ruling Identifies Protections for Transgender Workers

Post submitted by Michael Cole-Schwartz, Former HRC Director of Communications

A ruling late yesterday by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) concluded that the prohibition on sex discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 includes discrimination based on gender identity. 

While a growing number of federal courts have reached the same conclusion in recent years, this is the first time the EEOC has issued an opinion on this issue; the decision makes clear that transgender people across the country who have experienced workplace discrimination are able to file a claim under federal sex discrimination law with the EEOC.  The ruling comes in the case of Mia Macy, a transgender woman denied a job by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF), who is represented by Transgender Law Center.       

Currently, there is no federal law explicitly barring employment discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.  While many states have moved to protect LGBT under their own anti-discrimination laws, there are no such protections based on sexual orientation in 29 states, or based on gender identity in 34 states.  While today’s ruling provides stronger protections for transgender workers, federal courts have broadly concluded that discrimination based on sexual orientation is not prohibited by Title VII.

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