Does Title VII Prohibit Discrimination Against Transgender Individuals?

According to a recent decision from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), discrimination by an employer against a transgender individual violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  In Macy v. Holder, the EEOC held that “discrimination against a transgender individual because of her gender-nonconformity is sex discrimination, whether it’s described as being on the basis of sex or gender.”

The EEOC’s decision in Macy is consistent with decisions from several federal circuit courts.  The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals held that discrimination against transgender individuals violated Title VII in Glenn v. Brumby, 724 F.Supp.2d 1284 (11th Cir. 2010).  The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals reached the same conclusion in Smith v. City of Salem, 378 F.3d 566 (6th Cir. 2004).

For employers in Minnesota, discrimination based on transgender status is also prohibited by the Minnesota Human Rights Act.

Takeaway:  Under federal and Minnesota state law, it is illegal for employers to discriminate against transgender applicants and employees.  To reduce potential liability, employers should ensure that their managers and supervisors understand the legal protections that apply to transgender individuals.

About Michael Miller

Michael is a Chambers-rated attorney in Briggs and Morgan's Employment, Benefits, and Labor group and is head of the firm’s Employment Law Counseling and Compliance practice group. He has 25 years experience counseling employers to prevent unwanted litigation and advises companies of ongoing changes in federal, state and local employment law. Michael advises employers in all areas of employment law including discipline and discharge, leaves of absence, wage and hour compliance, non-compete and confidentiality agreements, affirmative action plans, background checking, and drug/alcohol testing. For Michael's full bio, click here.

Posted on May 23, 2012, in Discrimination and Harassment and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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