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"EEOC Will Not Tolerate Transgender Employee Discrimination" (American Bar Association Section of Litigation)

American Bar Association Section of Litigation
August 30, 2016

Recently, there has been significant attention focused on transgender individuals’ rights under state and federal law. Much of the debate has focused on the use of public restrooms in schools and stores. Transgender individuals’ rights, however, extend past the public sphere and into the workplace. Accordingly, employers should know their responsibilities with respect to transgender employees’ rights.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits sex discrimination. Whether it also prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity remains unclear. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has been clear, however, that it views sex-discrimination protections as encompassing sexual orientation and gender identity. As a result, the EEOC has actively pursued an end to such discrimination, particularly against transgender individuals. The EEOC recently stated that it will accept, investigate, and pursue charges from individuals who allege that they have been discriminated against because of their transgender (or gender identity) status or sexual orientation. The EEOC has also committed to addressing protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals in its Strategic Enforcement Plan.

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