September 26, 2014
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has for the first time used the 1964 Civil Rights Act to file federal lawsuits against two companies for discrimination against transgender people. While the EEOC has interpreted Title VII of the Civil Rights Act to prohibit anti-transgender bias since 2012, today marks the first time the agency has brought lawsuits on behalf of transgender workers.
A first complaint was filed in Michigan on behalf of Amiee Stephens against her former employer R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Home, Inc. The EEOC alleges that soon after Ms. Stephens came out at work about her gender transition she was fired for no other reason than for her being transgender.
The second case was filed in Florida on behalf of Brandi Branson against her former employer Lakeland Eye Clinic. The EEOC alleges that following her transition from male to female at work, she was ostracized on the job and the eye doctors that she worked with stopped referring patients to her. Later Branson was let go with the reason stated that her position was being eliminated entirely. Around two months later, however, a replacement was hired. In Branson’s original EEOC complaint she is represented by trans attorney Jillian Weiss.
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August 4, 2014
Houston, TX Mayor Annise Parker held a press conference today to announce that a petition effort to repeal the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO) has failed to gather the required amount of signatures. This victory comes after a similar victory earlier this year in Maryland, where opponents of the Fairness for All Marylanders Act also failed to gather enough signatures for a repeal effort of this statewide bill.
Assuming any court appeal fails, Houston will no longer be the largest U.S. city without explicit anti-discrimination protections for transgender people. The National Center for Transgender Equality congratulates local Houston advocates and celebrates this string of victories. People’s basic rights against discrimination should never be put up for a public vote. NCTE will continue to press for nationwide protections for transgender people.
July 25, 2014
Today, the US Office of Personnel Management (OPM) published new regulations that protect transgender federal workers under federal sex discrimination laws. Coming on the heels of an executive order signed by President Obama that made protections for transgender federal workers explicit across the government, the OPM rules makes clear that trans federal workers not only have legal protection but are also entitled to all the same rights and procedures as other workers complaining of sex discrimination. Specifically, the rule states throughout that federal workers are protected from bias based on “sex (including pregnancy and gender identity).”
Though specifically focused on the federal workforce, the rules are another indication of the increasingly solid legal consensus that all banning sex discrimination necessarily ban anti-trans bias. The Department of Education recently issued similar guidance under the federal Title IX law, and the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Labor have both announced in recent months that they intend to take a similar approach in forthcoming rules or guidance on job and health care discrimination.
NCTE and other advocates are pressing all of these agencies to provide more detailed guidance on how sex discrimination protect trans people in common situations in schools, workplaces and health care settings.
Learn more about the workplace rights of federal workers here.
July 25, 2014
Last week, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) released an updated version of the nondiscrimination regulations that guide their programs and activities. There were three important changes made to the existing regulations that include: an agency requirement to collect inform on race, ethnicity, and gender for all of its applicants and participants of programs, the establishment of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) services, and the establishment of explicit protection on the basis of political beliefs and gender identity.
NCTE welcomes the explicit nondiscrimination protection on the basis of gender identity USDA operated programs and activities. This added protection sets a clear standards for USDA offices and programs in every state in the nation, and gives customers who believe that they have been discriminated against due to their gender identity a basis upon which to file an administrative complaint. Due to continuing, widespread bias and discrimination, transgender people today face disproportionate levels of poverty, unemployment, homelessness, and victimization. According to the National Transgender Discrimination Survey, nearly one-third of transgender people report having experienced discrimination in a government office or program on at least one occasion. At present, many of the states with large rural communities served by USDA programs are the same states in which there is no explicit statewide nondiscrimination protection, and in which it is most difficult for transgender people to update state-issued identification.
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May 1, 2014
The National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) welcomes the news that the City of Philadelphia has finally settled a federal anti-bias lawsuit brought by city library worker Bobbie Burnett. Ms. Burnett was subjected to years of workplace harassment and other discrimination after she transitioned on the job in 2002. Managers allegedly restricted her use of women’s restrooms on the job, gave her undesirable job assignments, limited her contact with the public, and disciplined her for frivolous reasons.
Last month, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) filed a brief in federal district court supporting Ms. Burnett’s case and arguing that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination based on transgender status or gender transition. This filing is the latest signal that Federal Justice officials are taking the same position as the Departments of Education, Housing and Urban Development, and Health and Human Services, and the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission: that federal sex discrimination laws protect transgender people.
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January 29, 2014
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has proposed a new rule that will extend protection from discrimination, in programs and activities conducted by the Department, on the basis of gender identity and political affiliation. Last revised in 1999 to add sexual orientation, this amendment to the USDA’s non-discrimination regulations will protect transgender and gender nonconforming people seeking loans and assistance in agriculture and rural communities.
NCTE is proud to be joining hands with a number of other LGBT and human rights organizations, in applauding the USDA for their thoughtful steps towards transgender inclusion. The current proposal will extend protections to programs and activities that the USDA directly administers in thousands of communities throughout the country. NCTE is joining many others in urging the United States Department of Agriculture to take the next step and include protections for LGBT people across all the programs they finance. This would mean explicitly banning anti-LGBT discrimination in the food stamp program and many other federal nutrition programs that collectively serve millions of people.
The USDA is setting a great example of the actions that can and should be adopted all across the United States government. These are actions that protect LGBT people wherever federal funds are being used. For example, NCTE is also imploring the Department of Health and Human Services to add these protections in hospitals and other federally funded health facilities.
Here is our official comment to the USDA here.
December 12, 2013
The National Center for Transgender Equality congratulates Commissioner Chai Feldblum on her confirmation for a second term to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and we strongly commend President Obama for this selection. Commissioner Feldblum has been an exemplary public servant her whole career and a civil rights hero. Her work and her thinking have been essential to decades of equal employment advances in the U.S.
According to NCTE Executive Director Mara Keisling, “I couldn’t be more pleased that remarkable public servants like Chai Feldblum continue to be appointed to positions that matter so much to transgender working people.”
NCTE wishes Commissioner Feldblum continued success on the EEOC.