Are Transgendered Employees Protected under Title VII?
A transgender woman working for Saks Fifth Avenue in Texas has received a settlement in her employment discrimination case filed this past January.
In a statement from her attorney, the woman described harassment and belittlement from her coworkers. She was reportedly forced to use the men’s restroom, and coworkers would intentionally and repeatedly use the male pronoun to describe her as a method of demeaning her transition. She was eventually fired, prompting her to file a workplace discrimination claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
According to the lawsuit, the employee was discriminated against under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. She claimed that Title VII protected her from harassment based on her gender identity. Saks fired back, claiming that Title VII protections do not apply to transgendered employees, but this is not true.
When Did the Courts Extend Protection to Transgendered People under Title VII?
In 2012, the EEOC made a decision in the case of Macy v. Holder that determined that transgender workers are protected under Title VII. This decision has since informed several other cases of transgender discrimination in the workplace, and each time has ended with a victory for the transgendered employees. Additionally, in December of 2014, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced that the Department of Justice will henceforth recognize transgendered workers’ protection under Title VII.
Though the LGBT community has made amazing strides in achieving equality in the time since the Stonewall riots kicked off the LGBT rights movement, we still have a long way to go. If you believe you have been discriminated against at work due to your sexual orientation or gender identity, it is in your best interest to speak with a dedicated employment lawyer.
Atkerson Law – Dallas Employment Attorney