EEOC Prohibits Employer Discrimination Against Transgender People

In a victory for the rights of transgendered people, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ruled Friday that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act (which prohibits sex discrimination) is applicable to transgender people.  Although California transgender employees who work in the private sector or for the state or state sub-divisions are protected from discriminatory employment practices under the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), transgender federal employees working in California were not similarly protected previously, because they are exempt from FEHA’s protections.  Transgender federal employees in California are now entitled to similar protections against discrimination as their private sector and state employee counterparts.

The Commission made the ruling in an action by a transgender ballistics expert and law enforcement veteran who had applied to work at the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.  The Bureau discriminated against the applicant based on her sex when it rescinded an oral employment offer.  The Bureau took the action after the applicant changed her sex and name on her application, because she was in the process of transitioning from a man to a woman.  This ruling is important to ensure that employers focus on applicants’ fitness for the job involved without discriminating on the basis of protected status.

Russell Naymark

Legal Developments