DOJ reverses course on Title VII protections for transgender persons

January 14, 2018 0 COMMENTS

by Angela N. Johnson

On October 4, 2017, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued a memorandum announcing the U.S. Justice Department’s (DOJ) new stance that transgender employees aren’t protected from discrimination under federal law. The announcement reflects a reversal from the Obama administration’s interpretation of the law and runs counter to federal court decisions and other federal agencies’ interpretations.  Vector modern transgender flag background

Title VII’s prohibition on sex discrimination

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Deciphering the feds’ changing position on LGBT employment protections under Title VII

November 19, 2017 0 COMMENTS

by Molly DiBiancaGay pride

In a memo issued on October 4, 2017, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions formally declared that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 does not prohibit discrimination based on transgender status. The memo directly conflicts with the position of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which has long argued that gender identity is protected by federal law. Here’s what employers need to know.

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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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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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Are rules for same-sex marriage about to change in Texas?

February 06, 2017 0 COMMENTS

by Jacob M. Monty

The Texas Supreme Court recently announced that it will review a case arguing that Texas employers shouldn’t be required to spend taxpayer funds to provide benefits to employee spouses in same-sex marriages, even if they do offer benefits to employee spouses in opposite-sex marriages. Depending on the outcome of the case, the ruling could lead to plenty of confusion over what Texas employers are required to do (and prohibited from doing) when it comes to employee benefits.  Justice is served

Background

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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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‘Man up’: Sex discrimination claim goes to trial based on supervisor’s comments

August 14, 2016 0 COMMENTS

by Stephen W. Jones

The 8th Circuit recently reversed an Arkansas federal district court’s decision to dismiss a store manager’s sex discrimination claims. The appellate court indicated that a trial must be held to determine whether a district manager who allegedly made certain sexist comments to the store manager was a decision maker and, if so, whether the district manager’s comments could be direct evidence of discriminatory animus.  Big boss yelling to her employee with megaphone on fire

Background

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Biased bias: when protected classifications intersect

June 19, 2016 0 COMMENTS

by Connor Beatty

If your company regularly interviews and hires qualified female applicants for all available positions, you may think the company is in a strong position to defend against gender discrimination lawsuits filed by rejected applicants. Similarly, if your company refrains from asking applicants about their age and interviews and hires applicants who happen to be older, you should be able to defend against an age discrimination claim, right? Not so fast.  Bias

Two recent studies found that older female applicants are less likely to be offered a job than older male applicants. What are the legal ramifications of the studies’ findings for employers? If an employee cannot prove that she was discriminated against because of her membership in a protected class, can she nevertheless argue that she was discriminated against because of her membership in a set of protected classes?

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When worlds collide: religious freedom laws and LGBT protections

June 19, 2016 0 COMMENTS

by Brent E. Siler

When the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the U.S. Constitution prohibits states from banning gay marriage last year, many people who oppose same-sex marriage for religious reasons began worrying that the newly recognized constitutional right to gay marriage would conflict with their right to religious freedom. As a result, several state legislatures have enacted “religious freedom laws,” which generally provide statutory protections for people who refuse to act contrary to their deeply held religious beliefs. Religious freedom laws in North Carolina, Georgia, Indiana, and Mississippi have caused controversy in recent months, with proponents of these laws arguing that they are necessary to protect religious freedom and opponents arguing that these laws are legalized discrimination. Unfortunately, the conflict between religious freedom laws and the ever-expanding recognition of gay rights is far from over and will almost certainly spill into the workplace and create difficulties for employers.  Editing Erasing the First Amendment to U.S. Constitution

Tenets of religious freedom laws

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U.S. women’s soccer team’s EEOC charge spotlights wage discrimination issues

June 19, 2016 0 COMMENTS

by Amy Steketee Fox

Pay equity issues have attracted significant attention recently in political debates, state legislatures, and courtrooms. The latest venue for the conversation: the fields dominated by the U.S. women’s soccer team. In late March, five prominent members of the team filed a wage discrimination complaint against their employer, the U.S. Soccer Federation (USSF), with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The women are seeking to be paid the same wages as their male counterparts.   Women during a soccer match at sunset

In the complaint, the women allege that the USSF pays male players nearly four times more despite the fact that the women’s team generated nearly $20 million more in revenue than the men’s team in 2015. The allegations can proceed under two separate laws: Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Equal Pay Act (EPA). Both laws prohibit wage discrimination based on sex. Although the USSF will likely provide non-sex-based explanations for the wage differential (including the fact that players’ pay is collectively bargained), it is too early to make a reasonable projection about either side’s chances of success.

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