EEOC Files Historic Lawsuit in Cases of Discrimination Against Two Transgender People in Two States

by Stephen Peters

WASHINGTON– The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, today praised the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) for filing two historic lawsuits challenging cases of discrimination against two transgender people in two states.

“The lawsuits filed today by the EEOC are historic and a giant step toward ensuring American workers are judged based on the work they do, and not their gender identity,” said Sarah Warbelow, HRC’s Legal Director. “Transgender people continue to face some of the highest levels of discrimination in the workplace. The EEOC has the ability to alleviate these problems now and deserves immense praise for tackling the issue head on.”

The EEOC filed the complaints in federal courts in Florida and Michigan against two separate companies accused of discriminating against transgender employees, Amiee Stephens of Michigan and Brandi Branson of Florida.  Amiee Stephens was fired from R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Home, Inc., in Michigan after informing her employer that she was transitioning from male to female and would be dressing appropriately to represent her transition as a woman.  Brandi Branson was fired from Lakeland Eye Clinic in Florida after acknowledging to her employer that she was transitioning from male to female.

This is the first time the EEOC has used the protections of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to bring lawsuits challenging discrimination based upon gender identity. The lawsuits are consistent with the 2012 decision in Macy v. Holder, in which the EEOC determined that discrimination based on an individual's gender identity is sex discrimination and thus constitutes a violation of the Civil Rights Act.

HRC continues to advocate for explicit, legislated workplace protections at all levels of government for LGBT people.

The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.


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