EEOC Ruling Protects Transgender Workers

Monday's ruling helps ensure workers are not forced out of a job and into the ranks of the unemployed based solely on their gender identity.

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Late Monday the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission issued a sweeping ruling giving transgender individuals sorely needed federal protections against workplace discrimination. According to the ruling, employers who discriminate against employees or job applicants on the basis of gender identity can now be found in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964—specifically its prohibition of sex discrimination in employment.

The ruling has far-reaching implications. Prior to Monday’s ruling transgender employees only had legal workplace protections based on gender identity in 16 states and the District of Columbia. Going forward this decision institutes comprehensive protections for transgender workers that apply to both private and public employees across the entire United States.

Specifically, thanks to the ruling in this case (brought forward by the Transgender Law Center), transgender people are now protected by federal law and have legal recourse if they are denied a job or fired because they are transgender. Should a transgender person file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the commission determines that case has merit, the agency now has the legal standing to sue the employer for discrimination under Title VII (it also may issue a private right to sue to the individual claiming employment discrimination).

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