Landmark EEOC Ruling Protects Transgender Employees from Workplace Discrimination

April 26, 2012

In recent California labor and employment news that Vincent Howard has been following, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), responsible for enforcing federal discrimination laws, ruled on Monday that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects transgender workers from workplace discrimination.

The California discrimination case involved a woman who claimed that she was refused employment as a contractor with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) last year, after they discovered that she had transitioned from a male to a female.

Mia Macy reportedly applied for the position of a ballistics forensic technician as a man, and was told that she was qualified for the job as she was an Army veteran and had former experience as a police detective. Macy claims that the job was perfect for her because it was the exact same job she was doing as a civilian, with the same kind of equipment--and only few people had been certified with this kind of equipment.

She was told the job was hers, pending a background check, which she passed--at which point Macy informed the ATF lab officials that she was transitioning her gender from a man to a woman. Five days later, she was reportedly told that the funding for the job was suddenly cut. Macy later learned that another person was hired for the same position, and Macy suspected that she had been dropped from the job consideration after revealing that she was transgender.

After Macy contacted the ATF and filed a complaint, she was told that federal discrimination laws did not cover transgender people. She then approached the Transgender Law Center in San Francisco, a legal rights advocacy group, who represented her case and filed a case with the EEOC in June of last year.

As Vincent Howard has previously reported in a Santa Ana employment lawyers blog, under Title VII, it is against the law to engage in gender or sex discrimination in any aspect of employment--including job hiring, assignments, compensation, job promotions, layoffs, firing, and training, among other terms or conditions of employment.

This new EEOC ruling states that under Title VII, it is also illegal for employers to discriminate against job applicants or employees based on their gender identity--which is considered sex discrimination under federal law. According to the EEOC ruling, the term 'gender' involves not just the individual's biological sex, but also the social and cultural components that are associated with the roles of femininity and masculinity.

This decision has been hailed as a significant victory for transgender workers who experience widespread and pervasive discrimination in the workplace throughout the country--as they are now protected under Title VII. The decision reportedly sets a national standard for enforcing the federal discrimination laws, offering employers clear guidance on the discrimination issue.

If you or someone you know has experienced sex discrimination in the Orange County workplace, contact Vincent Howard and our Costa Mesa labor and employment attorneys and professionals so we can help find a solution for your recovery. Contact us today for a free consultation at 1-800-872-5925.

Federal EEOC says transgender people protected, The Seattle Times, April 25, 2012

Landmark Employment Ruling Protects Against Anti-Transgender Discrimination, Advocate.com, April 24, 2012

EEOC Rules Transgender People Protected Against Job Discrimination Under Civil Rights Act, KQED News, April 25, 2012

Transgender Employees Now Protected By Anti-Discrimination Law After 'Landmark' EEOC Ruling, The Huffington Post, April 24, 2012

EEOC Rules Job Protections Also Apply to Transgender People, The Los Angeles Times, April 25, 2012

Related Web Resources:

Department of Labor (DOL): Wage and Hour Division (WHD)

U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, EEOC: Laws Enforced by EEOC

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