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Victory: Federal Agency Rules Trans People Protected by Sex Discrimination Law

NCTE congratulates our colleagues at the Transgender Law Center, who tonight, announced a significant federal workplace rights victory. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) ruled in a 5-0 decision that an employer who discriminates against a transgender employee or job applicant because of the person’s gender identity is illegal sex discrimination based on Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Though this ruling follows a growing number of court decisions around the country that have held that transgender people are protected by existing federal anti-discrimination laws, this is the first decision by the EEOC on this issue. NCTE Executive Director Mara Keisling said, “This ruling is a major advancement in transgender rights that will provide a significant tool to fight discrimination. It will also help us advocate for still needed protections like the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) and the federal contractors executive order.”

The EEOC is the federal agency charged with interpreting and enforcing federal anti-discrimination laws, and this is the first time it has ruled that anti-transgender discrimination is sex discrimination. The decision applies to both public and private employers throughout the country including in the 34 states that do not yet have gender identity anti-discrimination laws. The case was brought by the Transgender Law Center (TLC) on behalf of their client Mia Macy who was a denied a job as a ballistics technician at the Walnut Creek, CA laboratory of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). NCTE congratulates TLC on this important victory and thanks Mia Macy for standing up for herself and the rights of all trans people. Keisling added, “this is a major victory. As many as 90% of trans people still face tremendous discrimination in employment according to our National Discrimination Survey, and it will help so much that the EEOC agrees with what more and more courts have been saying—discriminating against trans people because of their sex, or their perceived sex, or what an employer thinks about their sex is clearly sex discrimination, illegal and wrong.” 

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