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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Responding to restroom accommodation requests from transgender employees

July 16, 2017 0 COMMENTS

by Brian Bouchard

Fifty-two years ago, Bob Dylan penned the now-famous lyrics “The times they are a-changin’.” True enough, Mr. Dylan, but for many, changes come slowly, and as the late David Bowie sang: “The days still seem the same.” This can be true in regard to laws, which sometimes struggle to keep pace with changes in society. Would it surprise you to learn that only last May, Congress removed archaic racial terminology like “Oriental” and “Negro” from the federal lexicon?   Bathroom sign

For employers dealing with transgender-related issues, the changing times have exposed a legal void of uncertainty. Time magazine recently called transgender issues the “New Civil Rights Frontier.” Yet despite a shifting and dynamic public perspective on transgender issues, Congress and federal agencies have provided little guidance to employers. As a result, many employers have been left in the dark, trying to divine the best way to deal with various related issues. None is as vexing as restroom accommodations.

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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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U.S. Supreme Court to consider transgender restroom lawsuit

January 15, 2017 0 COMMENTS

by Ryan B. Frazier

During the 1990s, Saturday Night Live, a popular TV sketch comedy show, featured a recurring gender-ambiguous character, Pat. The gag in Pat’s comedy sketches often involved others’ failed attempts to determine the seemingly androgynous character’s gender. The skits played off the then-prevailing view that a person’s gender falls into one of two categories: male or female.  Gender transition concept

Society’s view of gender has evolved significantly since then. The rigid dichotomy of a two-gender world view is frequently challenged and, in some cases, rejected outright. As society’s views on gender morph, the law is attempting to keep pace.

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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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How do ‘bathroom bills’ affect employers in other states?

October 16, 2016 0 COMMENTS

Sex stereotyping, same-sex harassment, and transgender issues in the workplace

May 15, 2016 0 COMMENTS

by Amanda Shelby

We typically think of sex discrimination and sexual harassment as involving two employees of the opposite sex, but that unlawful activity can occur between employees of the same sex, too. Although federal law doesn’t explicitly recognize gender identity or sexual orientation as protected characteristics, several states and cities have passed ordinances prohibiting adverse action on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation. Additionally, in its 2013-16 Strategic Enforcement Plan, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) emphasized the emerging issue of LGBT rights in the workplace. Gender Identity

A brief overview of the law

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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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EEOC brings first lawsuits alleging transgender discrimination

December 14, 2014 0 COMMENTS

by Arielle B. Sepulveda

On September 25, 2014, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) filed two lawsuits, the first actions by the agency in which it has alleged that discharging an employee because she is transgender constitutes discrimination on the basis of sex and therefore violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. In light of the increasing societal and judicial recognition of LGBT rights, employers must be aware of the potential workplace issues faced by employees who don’t conform to traditional gender norms.  Transgender

Background

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