A groundbreaking decision by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has found that discrimination based on gender identity violates the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

transgender discrimination in the workplace

In Macy v. the U.S. Department of Justice, a transgender police detective in 2010 applied for a job with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. The job was located at the bureau’s crime lab in northern California. The applicant, a transgender woman, had the background and skills needed to meet the requirements of the position, according to court documents.

The applicant had a phone interview with the director of the crime lab while still presenting herself as a man. The discussion covered all aspects of the job, including experience, salary and benefits. A few weeks later, according to the complaint, the applicant spoke to the director again, who said the job was hers pending a background check.

The applicant said she emailed the person in charge of the background check informing him that she was transitioning to a woman, and asked that he tell the director of the crime lab. A few weeks later, the applicant received an email saying the position she had applied for was no longer available because of budget cuts. She believed it was because of her change in gender identity and filed a complaint.

The EEOC ultimately found that intentional discrimination against a transgender woman or man is a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights act, which prohibits discrimination based on sex. The commission ruled that the woman had a case based on the theory that she did not get the job because the bureau learned she was transitioning into a woman. It had been ready to welcome her to the crime lab when officials believed she was a man.

woman upset about trandgender discriminationThe EEOC has applied the case in its decisions on bathroom use by transgender people and in cases where employers and others refuse to change records to reflect a name change by someone who is transitioning into another sex. That impact is trickling down to private employers.

If you feel you are being discriminated against, it is important to discuss your concerns with an experienced Sacramento sexual harassment attorney as soon as possible.

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