EEOC Rules Anti-Trans Workplace Bias Violates Civil Rights Act
In what advocates are calling a “game-changing decision,” a federal law enforcement agency has ruled that the nation’s sex discrimination law protects transgender employees from workplace bias.
The five-member Equal Employment Opportunity Commission—or EEOC—unanimously concluded that “intentional discrimination” based on an employee’s gender identity violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. That law protects workers based on their sex, race, color, religion, or national origin.
The EEOC’s opinion is a win for former police detective Mia Macy. She’s a transgender woman who claims she was denied employment as a ballistics technician with the Department of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives—the ATF—after she disclosed her intentions to transition.
Macy says while the experience was both “devastating” and “humiliating,” she’s glad other transgender workers can now benefit from Monday’s decision, which the ATF CANNOT appeal.
MACY: I think the most important thing for me to get out there is that the decision isn’t just for me. I mean, it’s good for me, but this is a door that’s opening now a little wider for a lot of other transgenders that have to go through this for employment issues.
Legal experts note that the EEOC’s ruling impacts EVERY employer throughtout the nation—both public and private—and is binding on ALL federal agencies and departments. But they stress that a trans-inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act is still needed to protect both transpeople AND gays and lesbians, whom the EEOC ruling does not cover.
Also, trans workers who suspect that they’re the victims of workplace bias can now bring their claims to ANY of the EEOC’s field offices. Advocates say that’s significant since an estimated 75-percent of ALL trans people experience workplace discrimination.
Mia Macy’s lawyers say they’re now seeking compensatory damages including back pay for their client, who lost her home to foreclosure because of the ordeal.