Resources

Resources for Transgender Employees

Transgender employees can present unique workplace challenges. Transitioning employees – those who are moving outside the socially accepted standards of dress, physiology and/or behavior of their birth gender – often cannot avoid challenging community standards about what is gender-appropriate self-identification, appearance or expression. Furthermore, little legal protection exists for workplace gender non-conformity.

Discrimination and Equal Employment Opportunity Policies

  • Equal employment opportunity policies
    The inclusion of "gender identity or expression" in a company's non-discrimination or equal employment opportunity policy is the first step employers can take to show their commitments to providing equal treatment to transgender employees.
  • Share your story
    If you have been fired, denied a job or promotion or have been otherwise discriminated against at work because of your real or perceived gender identity, HRC uses these stories to educate the general public and members of Congress about the real need to enact workplace protections based on gender identity.

Benefits

Tools and Resources for Employees and Employers

What U.S. Employers are Doing

  • Search our employer database
    Find employers that include gender identity in their non-discrimination policies, jurisdictions that ban employment discrimination based on gender identity, and employers with transgender-inclusive health insurance.
  • Corporate Equality Index
    See how employers ranked in transgender-inclusive policies and practices.

Title VII, ENDA and the Legal Landscape for Anti-Transgender Discrimination

In April 2012 the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued a landmark ruling in Macy v. Holder. In that case a transgender woman disclosed that she was in the process of transitioning from male to female, and as a result was denied employment at a federal agency. The EEOC held that discrimination based on a person’s gender non-conformity, transgender status, or plan to transition constitutes unlawful sex discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This ruling built on a string of cases throughout the country in which courts held that discrimination against transgender employees constitutes sex discrimination under Title VII.

Macy established the EEOC’s official position on discrimination against transgender individuals under Title VII and is binding on federal agencies. However, Macy is not directly binding on courts ruling on discrimination in the private sector.

In September 2013, the EEOC took another step forward when it facilitated a settlement in a case brought by Cori McCreery, a former employee of a South Dakota grocery market who was fired after announcing her transition plan. McCreery was assisted by Lambda Legal and filed a complaint stating that her termination equaled sex discrimination under Title VII. Following an investigation the EEOC found that there was reasonable cause to believe that McCreery’s termination was unlawful. This is the first EEOC settlement ever reached regarding discrimination against a transgender employee

Macy and the settlement in McCreery’s case are substantial, positive steps forward for transgender employees facing discrimination. However, there is still gray area for employees in the private sector. Viewed together, these cases give courts a clear avenue for finding that discrimination against transgender employees fits squarely within Title VII’s sex discrimination prohibition. Still, it is unlikely that all courts will rule this way. As a result, hostile employer practices are unlikely to change, and transgender employees remain vulnerable without explicit protections.

HRC remains committed to passing the federal Employment Nondiscrimination Act (ENDA) to ensure that there is no ambiguity for transgender employees who face discrimination in the workplace. For more on ENDA, see: http://www.hrc.org/campaigns/employment-non-discrimination-act.

If you think that you have experienced discrimination based on gender non-conformity, transgender status, or your plan to transition, you should contact the EEOC and consider filing a complaint. Guidance on the complaint process and contact numbers for the EEOC’s 53 field offices are available at: http://www.eeoc.gov/employees/howtofile.cfm.

Additionally, depending on where you live, you may have recourse under state or local nondiscrimination laws. Seventeen states and D.C. prohibit workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, and four states provide protections based on sexual orientation only.

For a guide to state nondiscrimination laws, see: http://www.hrc.org/resources/entry/maps-of-state-laws-policies. You should speak with an attorney regarding your specific claim and how state and local laws might apply. For more help, learn more about the Transgender Law Center’s Legal Information Hotline: http://transgenderlawcenter.org/help