Department of Labor Clarifies Restroom Access, Other Protections for LGBT Workers

January 30, 2015

Sex Discrimination Rules Updated to include Bias Based on Trans Status, Same-Sex Relationships

The National Center for Transgender Equality welcomes proposed regulations published today by the Department of Labor, which clarify that unlawful sex discrimination in the workplace extends to bias against transgender workers and workers in same-sex relationships. While this rule directly applies to federal contractors—who are already subject to explicit LGBT protections under a 2014 executive order—the rule confirms the increasingly broad legal consensus that sex discrimination laws protect all LGBT workers. Importantly, the proposed rule incorporates the essential principle that transgender workers must have equal access to workplace restrooms consistent with their identity.

US Department of Labor building

“This regulatory update confirms what has been clear for some time: equal employment opportunity has to mean the ability to come to work as the person you really are,” said Harper Jean Tobin, Director of Policy. “Most employers are already doing the right thing, but this clarification is critical for transgender workers who still face losing their job over simply need to go to the restroom.”

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Win for Civilian Army Worker: Agency Says Restroom Restriction, Mis-Gendering Was Discrimination

October 27, 2014

Tamara-LusardiNCTE applauds the Transgender Law Center and Tamara Lusardi in obtaining a decision from the U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) found that the Department of the Army engaged in unlawful discrimination of Ms. Tamara Lusardi and ordered corrective action on her behalf.

Ms. Tamara Lusardi is a disabled veteran who transitioned in 2010. She works at the U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Research, Development and Engineering Center (AMRDEC) as a Software Quality Assurance Specialist. After Ms. Lusardi transitioned on the job, her supervisor would purposely mis-gender her and would repeatedly refer to her as “sir” and “he.” Furthermore Ms. Lusardi was asked to agree that she could only use a single-use restroom and not use the same restrooms as other female employees.

U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) found that the mis-gendering by her supervisor and the restrictions put on Ms. Lusardi constituted unlawful discrimination based on a factor unrelated to job performance, in violation of federal civil service law. OSC said that these action likely also violated Title VII, the law against sex discrimination in the workplace. The Department of the Army has agreed to provide LGBT sensitivity training to employees and supervisors at the AMRDEC facility.

Today’s action by OSC is one more milestone showing that not only that transgender workers have recourse against discrimination, but that recourse extends to practices that deny an employee’s gender identity and make it impossible to come to work as who they are.

NCTE is currently working with the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the Department of Labor, and other agencies to strengthen workplace protections for trans people.

Federal employees, and anyone else facing discrimination at work, should consult NCTE’s “Transgender Federal Workers: Your Workplace Rights” resource to find out how to file a complaint and get legal help.


Federal Contractors Put on Notice: Labor Dept. Issues Non-Discrimination Guidance

August 19, 2014

Today, the Department of Labor (DOL) sent guidance to the 200,000 federal contractors saying they may not discriminate against transgender workers. They clarified that that sex discrimination laws extend to individuals discriminated against based on their gender identity or “transgender status” and that this will be in force even before the President’s Executive order adding “gender identity” protections is fully implemented. DOL’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs will oversee compliance with these newest guidelines.

In June, Secretary of Labor Tom Perez announced that DOL is also in the process of updating enforcement protocols and anti-discrimination guidance to protect transgender workers in other areas over which the Department of Labor has jurisdiction.

“Today’s latest victory means that almost every major federal civil rights agency agrees that federal sex discrimination laws protect transgender people in the areas of employment, housing, health care, and education,” said NCTE Executive Director Mara Keisling. “While President Obama’s executive order will take effect once implementing rules are issued in 2015, today’s DOL announcement makes it unmistakable that individuals who are discriminated based on their gender identity in the workplace by a federal contractor can file discrimination complaints immediately with the Department of Labor,” said Keisling.

For information on filing complaints with the Department, please refer to NCTE’s resource “Transgender Federal Workers: Your Workplace Rights.” As always, if you have been discriminated against by any employer, please refer to our “Employment Discrimination and Transgender People” resource.


New Rule Codifies Sex Discrimination Protection for Trans Federal Workers

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.


Dept. of Labor Affirms Trans Discrimination Protections

July 1, 2014

The National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) welcomes policy clarifications by the Department of Labor in their ongoing effort to end anti-transgender bias and discrimination in their programs. Department of Labor Secretary Tom Perez announced forthcoming clarification to their nondiscrimination protections declaring that anti-transgender discrimination violates Title VII sex discrimination law and is illegal.

Labor Secretary Tom Perez said, “These changes reflect current law. In Macy v. Holder, for example, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission concluded that discrimination because a person is transgender is sex discrimination in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs and Civil Rights Center, along with the Employment and Training Administration, will issue guidance to make clear that discrimination on the basis of transgender status is discrimination based on sex. ”

Sec. of Labor Tom Perez

In a statement to the Washington Blade, NCTE Executive Director Mara Keisling said, “With the impending signing of the President’s two gender identity executive orders, we are very pleased that Secretary Perez agrees with us on the need to publicly clarify the law that the Department enforces.”

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Victory! Federal Government Modernizes Health Insurance

June 13, 2014

The federal government will begin letting insurance companies who have Federal Employee Health Benefits (FEHB) plans consider trans health care needs just like other types of medical care.  They will no longer require the insurance carriers to have a blanket exclusion for trans-related care. This is a significant win for trans federal employees who have long faced discrimination from the FEHB plans.

NCTE Executive Director Mara Keisling said, “Fixing the FEHB plans have been a priority for us for years.  First of all, it was a priority because transgender federal employees need healthcare, but also, this was one of the few remaining areas where the federal government was the actual discriminator, giving trans employees lesser benefits than non-trans employees. “

NCTE commends the Obama Administration and especially the Office of Personnel Management for taking this major step toward modernizing the health benefits to provide needed medical treatments. Though this new policy allows insurance companies to drop the exclusion, they are not yet required to do so; NCTE urges OPM to, with next year’s insurance process, to require all insurance companies to drop the exclusion.

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NCTE Trains Job Centers Throughout the U.S. on Serving Transgender Job Seekers

May 19, 2014

The National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) recently trained staff from Job Centers on how to make their services transgender friendly and transgender competent.

What is a Job Center? State and local governments, with U.S. Department of Labor funding, run these Job Centers all over the United States where people can get help with finding and applying for jobs and getting job training, which is often free.  Known sometimes as One-Stop Centers or Career Centers, they are all designed to help people get work. There are nearly 3000 centers throughout the U.S.; you can find one in your area here.

Photo Credit: Tim Hawk/South Jersey Times

Photo Credit: Tim Hawk/South Jersey Times

NCTE was invited by the Department of Labor to give a presentation to officials from Job Centers on how to appropriately, respectfully and competently serve transgender job-seekers. Our curriculum included basic transgender terminology and cultural competency, and information about how transgender people are often locked out of the traditional workforce due to discrimination. We covered why trans people may have gaps in employment or education, why many have criminal records from survival work they have done on the streets, and how to work around these issues when trying to assist a transgender job-seeker to get employed.

Though there is much to be done, this training was a great first step with the Job Center system. NCTE has been pushing for Department of Labor to create a clear policy that all Job Centers and their affiliated training programs must not discriminate on the basis of gender identity.

Anyone who encounters discrimination in a job center should file a complaint. For more information on how to file a complaint, download NCTE’s resource on Employment Discrimination and Transgender People.