Monday, April 23, 2012

EEOC Rules Gender Identity Covered Under Title VII

Wow! In a huge win for LGBT people, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has issued an official decision that transgender individuals are protected from gender identity discrimination under federal law.

Chris Geidner of Metro Weekly has the exclusive report (and his usual excellent analysis):
An employer who discriminates against an employee or applicant on the basis of the person's gender identity is violating the prohibition on sex discrimination contained in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, according to an opinion issued on April 20 by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The opinion, experts say, could dramatically alter the legal landscape for transgender workers across the nation. 
The EEOC decision, issued without objection by the five-member, bipartisan commission, will apply to all EEOC enforcement and litigation activities at the commission and in its 53 field offices throughout the country. It also will be binding on all federal agencies and departments.
In the decision, the EEOC states, ''[T]he Commission hereby clarifies that claims of discrimination based on transgender status, also referred to as claims of discrimination based on gender identity, are cognizable under Title VII's sex discrimination prohibition ....''
''When an employer discriminates against someone because the person is transgender, the employer has engaged in disparate treatment related to the sex of the victim,'' the decision states. ''This is true regardless of whether an employer discriminates against an employee because the individual has expressed his or her gender in a non-stereotypical fashion, because the employer is uncomfortable with the fact that the person has transitioned or is in the process of transitioning from one gender to another, or because the employer simply does not like that the person is identifying as a transgender person.''
I strongly encourage you to read the entirety of Chris' article, which also summarizes the state of current Supreme Court precedent , along with federal law in this area and includes commentary from transgender legal experts.

This is really a momentous decision that will have a real impact on the lives of transgender people throughout the country and (again) demonstrates the importance of Presidential appointments to federal commissions. The EEOC is a 5-member body, one of whose members is the openly lesbian "mother" of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, Chai Fledblum.

Elections have consequences!

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