The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has filed two lawsuits against companies accused of discriminating against transgender employees. The EEOC says the companies’ actions are violations of Title Seven of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This is the first time the federal government has used the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which offers protections against sexual discrimination, to protect transgender workers from private companies.
One of the lawsuits is against a Michigan funeral home which allegedly discriminated based on sex when it fired an embalmer who was transitioning from being a male to a female. Two weeks after the employee, Amiee Stephens, notified her employer of the procedure, she was terminated for “proposing to do” what the company believed was “unacceptable.”
The second lawsuit is against a Florida eye-care facility, which allegedly discriminated based on sex when it fired an employee after she notified the company she was transgender. Prior to being fired, the employee faced derogatory comments and intense ostracism.
The EEOC’s position is that an employee should not be denied employment opportunities because he or she is transgendered, and that such employees must be protected.
In 2012, the EEOC ruled for the first time that discrimination against transgender employees is covered under the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The ruling came after the commission sided with a woman who sued after being denied work at an Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) lab in northern California. In the suit, it was determined that the ATF was in violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Title Seven of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects individuals against employment discrimination on the bases of race and color, as well as national origin, sex, and religion. This law applies to employers with 15 or more employees, including the federal government and state and local governments, employment agencies, and labor organizations. The Act seeks to ensure that equal employment opportunities are not denied any employee because of a protected characteristic.