Stage is set for SCOTUS to rule on Title VII and sexual orientation

September 17, 2017 0 COMMENTS

by Ryan B. Frazier

Since the civil rights movement of the 1960s, state and federal laws have been enacted to prohibit employment discrimination against individuals on the basis of their race, ethnicity, age, disability, religion, and gender. Until recently, virtually none of those antidiscrimination laws covered employment discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Over the last decade, as issues related to sexual orientation and gender identity have moved to the forefront of social consciousness, several states and certain federal agencies, including the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), have started to recognize and address employment discrimination in that context.  Supreme Court

Recognition of discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity has not been universal. Federal law is not resolved on the issue, and recent federal circuit court rulings have further complicated things. This article focuses on the recent appellate court rulings and how they are changing the employment discrimination landscape under federal law.

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EEOC maintains steady position on transgender employees’ rights

June 18, 2017 0 COMMENTS

by JW Furman

With all the attention given to President Donald Trump’s recent removal of the Obama administration’s protection for transgender bathroom access, it’s important to remember that the action applies only to public school students. For employers, the issue remains as unsettled as ever.  EEOC-jpg

There’s no reason to believe that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) will soften its stand on any transgender issue unless it is required to by the president or the court. The EEOC is strongly committed to its enforcement of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination and harassment based on sex or gender. Its interpretation has long been that gender stereotyping and gender identity discrimination are prohibited by Title VII. With the support of President Barack Obama, the agency became more aggressive about advocating transgender issues, but its general philosophy and long-standing interpretation of Title VII didn’t change.

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VA student’s transgender bathroom case will not pass ‘Go’ . . . yet

May 14, 2017 0 COMMENTS

by Rachael L. Loughlin

Transgender issues continue to be one of the hottest areas of the law today. Recent actions by the Trump administration backing away from the Obama administration’s forceful advocacy of transgender rights may have come as no surprise. Nonetheless, they certainly didn’t help clarify the law. In fact, if anything, the Trump administration’s backtracking has made things even more uncertain by pitting the interpretation of federal law banning sex discrimination in schools (Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972) against federal law prohibiting sex discrimination in employment (Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964) and by delaying critical guidance from the U.S. Supreme Court in a Virginia transgender student’s case.  All Gender Restroom

Issue in Grimm’s lawsuit

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What’s gender identity got to do with work?

December 18, 2016 0 COMMENTS

by Amanda M. JonesGender Identity

From Bruce Jenner’s announcement that he was transitioning to become a woman named “Caitlyn” to North Carolina’s passage of a so-called bathroom bill requiring schools and public agencies to restrict bathroom use to the facility corresponding to a person’s biological sex at birth, gender identity issues have become the subject of significant policy debate, lawsuits, and mainstream conversation. Gender identity is also increasingly becoming a more prevalent issue in our workplaces.

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EEOC issues bathroom guidelines for transgender employees

July 17, 2016 0 COMMENTS

Gender identity in the workplace: Employers face emerging discrimination issue

July 19, 2015 0 COMMENTS

When the Olympian and reality TV star the world knew as Bruce Jenner announced this spring that he identifies as female rather than male, the resulting publicity put a new employment issue into focus: Controversy surrounding gender identity is more than fodder for reality TV. It also poses workplace discrimination questions as well as practical dilemmas such as restroom access. Transgender Bathroom

Although Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 doesn’t specifically address gender identity, more and more that granddaddy of discrimination laws is being interpreted as prohibiting discrimination based on gender identity. In December 2014, a memorandum from then U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder stated: “I have determined that the best reading of Title VII’s prohibition of sex discrimination is that it encompasses discrimination based on gender identity, including transgender status.” He went on to say that the U.S. Department of Justice “will no longer assert that Title VII’s prohibition against discrimination based on sex does not encompass gender identity per se, including transgender discrimination.”

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Employers may be liable for transgender discrimination

June 14, 2015 1 COMMENTS

by Ryan B. Frazier

The legal landscape related to sexual orientation and gender identity has been shifting in recent years. The impact of same-sex marriage on employers and other topics involving homosexual employees and their partners have been featured in previous issues of this newsletter. Recent lawsuits and statements by key governmental officials have now placed transgender/gender identity discrimination and other issues at the forefront. Transgender

There is no universally accepted definition of “transgender.” The term usually refers to an individual whose gender identity does not match his or her biological gender. Transgender is sometimes confused with sexual orientation, but gender identity is an independent issue. Further, some transgender people may undergo medical procedures to physically align their gender to their gender identity. As this article illustrates, employers need to keep an eye on this rapidly changing area of the law.

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Here come the feds! POTUS, DOJ, DOL, and EEOC weigh in on LGBT issues

May 17, 2015 0 COMMENTS

by Geoffrey D. Rieder

Significant expansion of the antidiscrimination protections afforded to members of the LGBT community was accomplished in 2014 through executive action by President Barack Obama, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), and the attorney general (AG). The push for more protection of LGBT employees culminated in two lawsuits in which the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) challenged the layoff and termination of employees undergoing gender transition procedures. The EEOC’s litigation posture, bolstered by executive action, suggests that employers should anticipate increased enforcement activity in this unsettled area.  Pride flag at city hall

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 has always prohibited discrimination, harassment, and retaliation “because of sex” and “on the basis of sex.” Some states have adopted statutes that broaden that concept to include not only “sex” but also “sexual orientation [and] gender identity.” Although Title VII doesn’t explicitly prohibit sexual orientation or gender identity discrimination, the EEOC has now taken the position that discrimination based on gender identity (specifically, a “change in gender”) is discrimination “based on sex.” Similar pronouncements are found in the EEOC’s “Strategic Enforcement Plan, FY 2013-2016,” issued on December 17, 2012. However, many federal courts around the country have ruled that the language of Title VII doesn’t extend to the issues encompassed by the new executive actions.

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DOJ is the latest federal agency to extend Title VII protection

April 19, 2015 0 COMMENTS

by Leslie A. Sammon

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits workplace discrimination by all private employers, state and local governments, and educational institutions with 15 or more employees. We are all familiar with Title VII’s prohibition against sex discrimination in the workplace. In recent years, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency responsible for enforcing Title VII, has found that claims of sex stereotyping by lesbian, gay, and bisexual individuals are covered under the Act’s prohibition against sex discrimination. The EEOC has also interpreted Title VII to prohibit discrimination based on an individual’s gender identity, including transgender status. On December 14, 2014, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced a reversal of its previous position and has now joined the EEOC in extending the protection of Title VII to allow claims based on an individual’s gender identity.  Transgender

DOJ explains its position

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Revisiting gender identity discrimination

September 14, 2014 0 COMMENTS

by Lauren Moak Russell

We have addressed the issue of gender identity discrimination several times. As transgender individuals enter the mainstream of popular culture and employees become more comfortable disclosing their gender identity, employers can expect to see this issue arise with increasing frequency. The following is some guidance on how to stay out of trouble.  Transgender Bathroom

General employment advice

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