The law protects against discrimination based on gender identity or transgender status. Gender identity refers to a person’s innate identification of one’s gender. Transgender is a term for people whose gender identity or expression is different from those typically associated with the sex assigned to them at birth (the sex listed on their birth certificate). Different people choose to express their gender identity differently. For some, gender may be expressed through, for example, dress, mannerisms, speech patterns, and social interactions. Gender expression usually ranges between masculine and feminine, and some transgender people express their gender consistent with how they identify internally, rather than in accordance with the sex they were assigned at birth.
Some states and the District of the Columbia explicitly prohibit employers from discriminating against an individual because of their gender identity. At the federal level, although the protections of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 do not explicitly mention gender identity, courts and many federal agencies have found that the prohibition against sex discrimination and sex stereotyping includes discrimination based on an individual’s transgender status. For example, it can be illegal for an employer to deny employment opportunities or permit harassment because a woman does not dress or talk in a feminine manner, a man dresses in an effeminate manner or enjoys activities that are traditionally associated with women, or an employee transitions from female to male or male to female.
Correia & Puth, PLLC has the experience and commitment to fight employers who have wrongfully discriminated against a transgender individual. We negotiate resolutions with employers, and file complaints in courts or with government agencies, where appropriate, on behalf of transgender individuals who have confronted discrimination in the workplace. We are here to craft an innovative legal strategy to achieve the best results for our clients, motivated by our commitment to workplace fairness.
“We believe no employee should face harassment, discrimination, or retaliation in the workplace because of who they are or how they identify. The lawyers of Correia & Puth are staunch advocates for transgender individuals facing discrimination, and have dedicated their practice to fighting all types of unfair treatment in employment.”
With increasing frequency, courts are finding that discrimination against an employee because the employee is transgender is discrimination because of sex, and therefore is prohibited under Title VII. Title VII forbids an employer from taking employment actions based on sex stereotypes, for example an individual’s gender non-conforming behavior. Courts and federal agencies have recognized that Title VII’s prohibition on sex discrimination provides protections for persons who have been discrimination against because of their gender identity. In 2012, the United States Equal Opportunity Employment Commission (EEOC) issued a landmark decision in Macy v. Holder, which held that discrimination based on transgender status was a form of unlawful sex discrimination under Title VII.
Transgender individuals also have the right to safe and adequate access to restrooms and other facilities. Federal regulations enforced by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) require employers to make adequate facilities available for all employees. Under no circumstances may an employer require a transgender employee or applicant to use restroom facilities that are unsanitary, unsafe, or located at an unreasonable distance from a work station. Denial of access to restrooms that are consistent with an employee’s gender identity may also constitute discrimination.
As of late 2015, 19 states and the District of Columbia offer explicit protections to transgender employees. Pursuant to United States Department of Labor rules, federal contractors and subcontractors are also explicitly prohibited from discriminating on the basis of gender identity. To ensure that these explicit protections apply to all workers, the Equality Act was introduced in Congress and would make these prohibitions explicit in Title VII. The Equality Act would provide basic protections against workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. With leadership from civil rights organizations and the National Employment Lawyers Association, the Equality Act was introduced and if passed would ensure that LGBT individuals are not excluded from our nation’s anti-discrimination laws.
If you are filing a charge of discrimination based on gender identity with the EEOC or a state or local agency, you should identify the discrimination as discrimination based on sex, where the form does not provide for a specific notation of gender identity discrimination. Correia & Puth can help you with this process, and assess your rights and possible courses of action.
A target of gender identity discrimination may recover lost wages and compensatory damages for emotional or harm to reputation. In some cases, employees may receive awards of punitive damages, or can be reinstated to their jobs or promoted to their rightful place if it was denied due to an employee’s transgender status. In successful litigation, whether after filing a lawsuit or through a settlement agreement, an individual may also recover reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs.
Whether you are currently suffering from harassment or discrimination on the basis of gender identity, or have been subjected to it in the past, the lawyers of Correia & Puth, PLLC can help you seek justice and remedy the rights being violated. We work zealously to represent clients to seek a fair and just resolution with employers. Please call us confidentially at 202-602-6500 contact us today.