A transgender woman employed by a government contractor in the state of Maryland has reached a settlement in her case against her job, alleging physical and verbal harassment. With the help of Freedom to Work and Lambda Legal, it was determined that the company violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. In the complaint filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the victim alleged that verbal and physical harassment took place for over a period of two years and that although employees on the management and executive levels were aware of the harassment, no action was taken in eradicating the behavior.
As a result of the ruling by the EEOC, the government funded contracting company has agreed to re-publicize its non-discrimination and anti-discrimination policies and conduct training for all faculty at its facilities regarding LGBT, anti-discrimination and harassment issues. Lambda Legal and Freedom to Work issued the below statement, in regards to not releasing the names of the victim or the contracting company. “In light of the constructive steps taken to move past this episode by this contractor, and because our emphasis is on a systemic resolution to the problem of LGBT discrimination in federal contractor workplaces, Freedom to Work and Lambda Legal are not publicizing the name of their client or this particular government contractor.”
Transgender persons and their allies have been actively pushing for the passage of the Employment Non-discrimination Act (ENDA). ENDA, once passed, would legally protect transgender and gender non-conforming persons in the workplace. Although isolated incidences, like the one in Maryland, occur all too often, the main issue with anti-trans workplace discrimination is seeking recourse for the victim. This is made hard to impossible in some cases due to the lack of protection by the legal system. With such laws as ENDA and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act in place, discrimination against Tran's persons might not end, but legally the victims would be protected and the culprit held accountable.
In a clever, ‘take action now’ approach, Lambda Legal has announced a new campaign, “Know Your Rights: Transgender.” “Know Your Rights” is a web and mobile hub that seeks to further educate transgender persons about their rights and various laws that do offer protection in the entities of workplace and housing discrimination, identity documents, and restroom access rights. Information about the laws at both the state and federal level will be available on the website, with the mobile hub offering “transgender people across the country critical information at their fingertips,” as stated by Dru Levasseur, Lambda Legal’s Transgender Rights Project Director. It should be noted that the ruling in the Maryland case may be the first time on record that the EEOC has investigated anti-transgender harassment and ruled in favor of the transgender employee. Transgender persons make up an estimated 0.4 percent of the total U.S. population, yet are the victims of physical and sexual assault, police brutality, and workplace and housing discrimination at alarmingly high rates. The actions by the EEOC, Freedom to Work, and Lambda Legal highlight an ongoing movement to further protect transgender employees in the workplace.