EEOC’s Ruling in Transgender Discrimination Case

Author: Stephen D. Hans

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently ruled in the case of a woman, Mia Macy, who filed a discrimination complaint based on gender discrimination. The New York Times  reported that she was a former police detective and military veteran, living as a man. She had interviewed with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the bureau promised her a position in a crime laboratory in Walnut Creek, California in 2011. When she later reported during a background check that she was undergoing a gender transition to female and intended to live as a woman, the agency told her the job was no longer available.

Macy submitted a complaint based on sex, gender identity and sex stereotyping to he Bureau, and it denied her complaint. The Bureau’s denial stated that under Title VII their actions were not within the scope of sex discrimination.

Macy’s attorney submitted a claim to the EEOC citing previous court rulings from the U.S. Supreme Court and other appellate courts. Previous rulings had established precedents that recognized discrimination against transgender individuals because of their gender-nonconformity and had ruled that it was in fact sex discrimination.

The EEOC reviewed the claim and determined that “intentional discrimination against a transgender individual because that person is transgender” was a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The Civil Rights Act prohibits discrimination based on sex and the EEOC’s decision was a landmark ruling for the Commission and its first ruling for a transgender case.

Implication for the private sector

While this case established a precedent for federal government employment, it is likely to affect discrimination cases in the private sector as well. For questions and legal advice about dealing with transgender employees or other potential discrimination issues, consult an experienced New York employment defense  lawyer.

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