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Bryant Whitten, LLP

EEOC rules transgender employees are protected by Title VII

The United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ruled last week that transgender individuals are indeed protected under the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This act prohibits employment discrimination based on sex, among other protected classes. The EEOC ruling stated that intentionally discriminating against a transgender individual because they are transgender is a form of sex discrimination.

A complaint was filed by the Transgender Law Center on behalf of a California transgender woman who had been denied a job with the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives at its Walnut Creek, California, facility. The applicant, a former police detective, was exceptionally qualified for the position with both a military and law enforcement background, and being one of the few individuals in the country who had been trained on the ATF's ballistics computer systems.

The applicant was informed she was 'virtually guaranteed' the job. After initially applying as a man, she later disclosed her gender transition half-way through the hiring process. She was then told the funding had suddenly been cut for the position, however later learned someone else had been hired for it.

The EEOC's ruling ensures transgender individuals will have legal recourse if they feel they have been discriminated against because of their sex in employment or when seeking employment opportunities. It also clarifies the law by making it clear that it is illegal to discriminate against an employee based on their gender identity. A spokesperson for the Transgender Law Center said the decision is a big step forward because transgender people already face high rates of discrimination and unemployment.

Source: The Huffington Post, "Transgender Employees Now Protected By Anti-Discrimination Law After 'Landmark' EEOC Ruling," April 24, 2012

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