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Transgender discrimination: an issue in legal limbo

Readers are all well aware that transgender issues are very much a hot topic nowadays, with more awareness spreading about transgenderism and more attention being brought to legal issues impacted transgendered people. One of these issues is what kind of legal protections are available for transgendered individuals in the workplace.

Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, discrimination on the basis of “sex” is prohibited. The question has yet to be definitely decided in the court system, though, whether gender identity falls under the umbrella of sex for purposes of that law. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the federal agency charged with enforcing federal workplace discrimination laws, for its part, has been advocating for an interpretation of the law which protects transgendered individuals from workplace discrimination. 

On its website, the EEOC says, “discrimination against an individual because that person is transgender…is discrimination because of sex and therefore is covered under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.” The agency, in enforcing this interpretation of the law, has apparently settled several cases and is actively pursuing a case against a Minnesota company to compensate a man whom the company is accused of forcing a man to leave his job after he told coworkers of plans to go through a gender transition.

The EEOC, against, doesn’t make the law but is only tasked with enforcing the law. Ultimately, the courts will have to decide whether transgender discrimination constitutes discrimination based on sex under the law.

In our next post, we’ll look a bit more at the topic of sex discrimination, and particularly at what is well established in this area of law, and how an experienced attorney can help those who have been subjected to sex discrimination on the job.

Source: U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, “Facts about Discrimination in Federal Government Employment Based on Marital Status, Political Affiliation, Status as a Parent, Sexual Orientation, and Gender Identity,” Accessed May 17, 2016.

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