WASHINGTON —Transgender workers, backed by the federal government for the first time, are successfully using civil rights laws to challenge government and private employers accused of anti-transgender discrimination, BuzzFeed has learned.
The Department of Justice decided earlier this month in favor of a transgender woman, Mia Macy, who had been refused work at a laboratory of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). After an investigation into her claims, the Justice Department informed Macy July 8 that bureau “discriminated against [her] based on her transgender status.”
Macy celebrated the decision as “validation.”
“I never thought in my life that it would be over, but to have it not only be over but to have them say, ‘Yes, unfortunately, your civil rights were violated. They did do this.’ To have that vindication, it’s surreal,” Macy said.
The changes coming about now are the result of a crucial legal decision made by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in Macy’s case back in 2012. The commission then ruled that anti-transgender discrimination is covered under the ban on sex discrimination found in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. That April 2012 decision in Macy’s case sent her complaint back to the Justice Department, which is charged with investigating discrimination complaints brought against agencies under its control such as ATF.