Feds Clarify Restroom Protections for Trans Employees; White House Announces Gender Neutral Restroom
A new Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) decision ruled that denying transgender people access to restrooms or respecting name changes violates federal sex discrimination law. An Army employee, Tamara Lusardi, argued she was discriminated against after transitioning in 2010 for being forced to use a single stall restroom and denied the use of the women’s restroom. Lusardi, represented by Transgender Law Center, also said that a team leader persistently referred to her using male pronouns and made other hostile remarks.
This historic ruling expands upon its previous findings that Title VII sex discrimination protections include transgender people. It also sends a clear message that denying transgender employees access to the correct restroom is discrimination.
National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) Director of Policy Harper Jean Tobin said, "This ruling should send a strong message to employers that equal opportunity means the right to live and work as the person you truly are, and there is no restroom exception. Though several other agencies and courts have previously reached the same conclusion, having it come from the EEOC is a big step forward.”
Word of the ruling today coincided with White House spokesman, Jeff Tiller, announcing that the White House will have one gender neutral restroom for staff and visitors in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building. In a statement to The Advocate, Tiller said, “The White House allows staff and guests to use restrooms consistent with their gender identity."
In an op-ed published in the Advocate earlier today, President Obama’s Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett said, “The president is determined to lead by example. He has hired more openly LGBT Americans to serve in his administration than any other in history. And we have closely examined our internal policies on everything from benefits, to restroom access, to how we invite people to events, to ensure that everyone who enters this building feels safe and fully respected."
As anti-trans bathroom bills have been introduced in Florida, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Missouri, Nevada, and Texas, this gesture from the White House should serve as a noteworthy signal to public officials everywhere. Federal employees have also had the right to use facilities consistent with their gender identity since 2011.
“It is heartening that, even if legislators in some states are attacking the dignity and humanity of transgender and gender non-conforming people,” said NCTE Executive Director Mara Keisling, “at least the White House is still moving in the direction of dignity and common sense.”