Labor Department to Protect Transgender Workers from Employment Discrimination

by Charles Joughin

WASHINGTON - Yesterday the Department of Labor announced that it would be updating enforcement protocols and anti-discrimination guidance clarifying the reach of the federal non-discrimination laws enforced by the Department and ensuring full protection for transgender individuals covered by these laws.

"The Department of Labor's actions over the past months to fully implement the historic Macy decision represent a national sea-change for transgender employees,” said Human Rights Campaign Legal Director Sarah Warbelow.  “Transgender people face some of the highest levels of discrimination in our community, particularly in the workplace. And while explicit, legislated workplace protections are still necessary at all levels of government, transgender people now have an essential architecture of protection from discrimination on the job."

This guidance is consistent with the 2012 case Macy v. Holder, in which the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission determined that discrimination based on an individual's gender identity is sex discrimination and thus constitutes a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1974.  These revisions are a critical step towards ensuring that transgender workers are receiving the protections they are entitled to under the law.  

The forthcoming guidance will not only equip workers experiencing discrimination with an additional avenue to file a complaint outside of the EEOC process, but will also put employer's on notice of existing non-discrimination obligations.  This announcement illustrates the Department's consistent commitment to ending workplace discrimination, and will undoubtedly go a long way towards educating and empowering workers and employers alike.  

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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