HRC Applauds Federal Agency Ruling Protecting Transgender Workers

by Charles Joughin

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Concludes That Title VII Prohibits Gender Identity Discrimination

WASHINGTON – The Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, today applauded a ruling late yesterday by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency charged with enforcing federal laws barring workplace discrimination, in which it 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; today’s 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.      

“This ruling is a major step forward in protecting the LGBT community from workplace discrimination,” said HRC President Joe Solmonese.  “We know that transgender people are among the most vulnerable members of our community and suffer widespread discrimination, including in employment.  We applaud the EEOC for its historic ruling, congratulate Transgender Law Center on this victory and thank Mia Macy for her courage and perseverance.”

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. 

“While the EEOC has strengthened protections for transgender workers, it is critical that the entire LGBT community have clear, strong protections against workplace discrimination in federal law,” added Solmonese.  “Policymakers must take every step available to them to ensure all workers have a level playing field, including passage of an inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) and the adoption of an executive order barring discrimination by federal contractors.” 

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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