EEOC Says Transgender Federal Employees Covered by Civil Rights Act

On April 20, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), an agency of the United States Government that oversees federal employment discrimination, issued an official opinion stating that employment discrimination against transgender Americans violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. A statement from the EEOC reads “[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…” This opinion could have important legal implications in current and future court cases involving anti-transgender employment discrimination, including that of Mia Macy. Macy, a transgender woman, claims she was denied a position at the U.S. Department of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) after it became known that she was transitioning. The ATF went on to hire another person for the job. Macy’s case against ATF is being led by the Transgender Law Center (TLC).

"This is an important step towards protecting all Americans from discrimination," said GLAAD President Herndon Graddick. "We congratulate Transgender Law Center on a well-deserved victory, and look forward to the day when all LGBT people can feel safe from discrimination in the workplace."

In Metro Weekly’s coverage of the EEOC’s groundbreaking statement, Masen Davis of TLC commented on the matter, saying, “Given that transgender people do not have employment protections in the vast majority of states, this creates a whole new fabric of legal support for our community.”  Shannon Minter, legal director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, added, “It would still be important to have specific federal protection, but having protection by an EEOC ruling — which is consistent with the trend of federal courts — that is very significant, that's very strong protection.”  GLAAD applauds the EEOC and urges more media outlets to cover this historic step in the movement toward ensuring legal protections for transgender employees.

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