LGBT Workers Continue to Face Unfair Discrimination

May 28, 2014

TodDiscrimination Brief Cover Imageay, as Exxon Mobil’s shareholders vote again to deny workplace protections to its lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) employees, and the city of Houston, Texas votes on whether to extend such protections to LGBT workers, a newly released report paints a sobering portrait of widespread discrimination faced by LGBT people in the workplace. A Broken Bargain: Unchecked Discrimination Against LGBT Workers documents how LGBT workers continue to face unfair treatment, harassment, and discrimination, yet no federal law provides explicit legal protections.

Join us as we lobby for passage of federal legislation that explicitly bans workplace discrimination against transgender and LGBT Americans. 

LGBT workers face discrimination that makes it harder for them to find and keep good jobs, earn a living, and provide for themselves and their families. This discrimination includes:

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NCTE welcomes Philadelphia settlement with trans worker, lauds feds for supporting case

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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9 Things President Obama Can Do to Address Trans Economic Inquality

January 28, 2014

Today, ahead of the annual State of the Union speech,  President Barack Obama took an important step addressing income inequality by raising the minimum wage of new federal workers to $10.10, helping to ease the financial burden of more than 2 million employees. The National Center for Transgender Equality welcomes this executive order and urges legislators to take action to raise wages for all low-wage workers in the United States.

However, addressing America’s deepening economic divide, especially for transgender workers who face twice the rate of unemployment as the general population, requires swift action on many other policy areas. The Center has compiled our list of 9 policy matters that the Obama Administration can address without Congressional approval that would go far in closing the economic divide of transgender Americans.

1) Sign an executive order banning LGBT discrimination among businesses that contract with the federal government. Doing so would protect 1 in 5 American workers from job discrimination.

2) The Department of Labor should identify, promote and fund best practices for helping transgender people enter or re-enter the workforce.

3) Each federal department and independent agency should adopt a formal policy prohibiting discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation in its programs, activities, and funding.

4) The Department of Labor should include gender identity and sexual orientation measures in economic surveys including the Current Population Survey and the Survey on Income and Program.

5) The Department of Justice should vigorously enforce the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) to help end sexual abuse of transgender people in jails, prisons, and police lock-ups, and ensure transgender inmates are treated safely and respectfully. Enforcement of strong PREA rules helps ensure formerly incarcerated transgender people can smoothly re-integrate into American society and find jobs.

6) President Obama should pressure House Speaker John Boehner to heed the call of a majority of Americans (80%) who support strong LGBT workplace protections by putting the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) to a vote.

7) Provide a path to citizenship for the estimated quarter of a million undocumented immigrants who are transgender or LGB by passing commonsense immigration reform.

8) The Department of Homeland Security should expand the use of alternatives to secure detention and end the detention of asylum-seekers, LGBT people, people with HIV, and other vulnerable groups.

9) The Department of Education should issue guidance clarifying the application of Title IX nondiscrimination protections to transgender and gender nonconforming youth, including the right of transgender students to dress, access school facilities, programs and campus housing, and otherwise be treated in accord with their gender identity in a respectful and confidential manner.


“Orange is the New Black” Actor Laverne Cox Speaks Out for Transgender Workplace Protections

November 1, 2013

Today, breakout actor on the Netflix hit series Orange is the New Black joined the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) in pressing for passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA). In light of the scheduled votes for ENDA, Cox told NCTE:

“Getting to play Sophia Burset in the Netflix original series Orange is the New Black is a dream come true for me. As an out transgender woman of color, I don’t take the enormity of me being able to live my dreams lightly. This is not the case for so many of my transgender brothers and sisters. Everyone should have the same chance to get ahead, to support themselves and their families and to live their dreams. They should have the same chance to build a career doing something that they love to do. Having explicit federal laws like the Employment Non-Discrimination Act will make that possible for transgender people and I urge the U.S. Senate to swiftly pass this bill.”

NCTE Executive Director Mara Keisling said, “Laverne and I are examples of what could happen for each member of our community if every transgender person had the same shot at succeeding in their jobs while doing what they love.” Keisling added, “But in a country where 78% of transgender people face disrespect, discrimination or harassment at work, the promise of the American dream becomes disappointingly distant. I join Laverne in strongly urging all Senators to vote for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.”

The decades-old bill is slated for a cloture vote on Monday, November 4th, 2013 with a final vote expected later next week. The forthcoming vote marks the first time a transgender-inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act receives a vote in U.S. Congress.

Sign the petition to tell your Senators to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.

Share Laverne’s statement on Facebook. 


Five Things You Should Know To Understand the EEOC Decision and the Need for ENDA

September 24, 2013

We have received some questions about the full legal and practical consequences of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) Macy decision—and whether the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) is still legally or practically necessary for transgender people to experience equality on the job. The answer is complex and nuanced, but here’s the bottom line: the EEOC decision is incredibly useful, but we still need ENDA to end transgender job discrimination.

The EEOC decision has significantly moved us forward, but we need ENDA to take us the rest of the way. Until we are there, transgender people now have recourse with the EEOC that they can and should utilize (See our Know Your Rights at Work resource  for how to do so). Let me explain why both the EEOC ruling is so important, and why we still need ENDA.


1. What does the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ruling do?

Before the EEOC’s Macy decision, when a transgender person filed a complaint with the EEOC for job discrimination, the EEOC used to spit it back out—saying that there was no basis for the claim—and telling people that they could bring a lawsuit in court if they wanted to. Now, after the Macy decision, the EEOC takes these complaints and processes them—both offering to help negotiate a settlement and investigating the complaint.  A few people have successfully won settlements using this process, which is great. (It should be noted though that the EEOC has a backlog because it is understaffed for the number of complaints it receives, meaning this process takes a long time. We are thankful, though, that the EEOC has prioritized LGBT enforcement in its latest strategic plan). However, the bigger limitation is that an employer isn’t required to negotiate at all—the employer can just say they don’t care what the EEOC says and “sue us.”  Yet, because the EEOC complaint process is time consuming and arduous for an employer, the fact that the EEOC is doing an investigation may make it more likely that the employer will settle instead of ignore an EEOC complaint. The possibility of settlement this way is of great practical benefit for transgender people. By the way, for federal employees, the EEOC decision was binding—and the EEOC can award damages to federal employees if a federal agency discriminates without them having to file a lawsuit.

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NCTE Applauds Landmark EEOC Settlement for Transgender Worker; Urges All Victims of Bias to File Complaints

September 17, 2013

The National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) applauds the work of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and Lambda Legal in reaching a landmark settlement on behalf of a transgender victim of job discrimination. Cory McCreery, an employee at a grocery store in South Dakota, was fired after announcing her plan to transition. Lambda Legal filed a complaint on McCreery’s behalf, stating that the termination constituted sex discrimination in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. After an investigation, the EEOC made a finding that there was reasonable cause to believe the termination was unlawful. Following this finding, a conciliation agreement was reached to avoid litigation in federal court. The agreement includes the maximum allowable monetary amount in a case of this type, as well as requiring the former employer to post a public notice about discrimination on the workplace bulletin board, host annual trainings on workplace discrimination and issue a letter of apology and letter of recommendation for McCreery. NCTE urges any transgender worker who has experienced job discrimination in any job to reach out for legal help now and file a complaint with the EEOC.

The settlement in McCreery’s case follows a string of court decisions finding anti-trans bias is prohibited by Title VII, as well as a formal decision by the EEOC itself last year in Macy v. Holder. In Macy, a transgender woman was denied a job with a federal agency after disclosing that she was in the process of transitioning from male to female. The case was brought before the EEOC, which held that discrimination based on a person’s gender non-conformity, transgender status or plan to transition genders constitutes unlawful sex discrimination under Title VII. The Macy decision established the EEOC’s official position, and is binding on federal agencies, but not binding on courts in private-sector cases, though we hope it would be pursuasive. While not establishing a legal precedent, the settlement in Ms. McCreery’s cases is a milestone because it is the first time the EEOC has reached a settlement on behalf of a worker for gender identity discrimination. This is a strong signal that the EEOC will seriously pursue discrimination against trans people, wherever it occurs. (The EEOC issued a statement about the settlement on its own website.)

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NCTE Joins Bipartisan Effort to Pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act

July 31, 2013

Coalition of diverse groups representing millions of Americans pushing for Senate vote following historic committee markup

Today the bipartisan campaign Americans for Workplace Opportunity announced it had formed in order to take advantage of a historic opportunity to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act 19 years after its first introduction – a bill to ban workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. The group plans to spend more than $2 million on the effort and has hired Matt McTighe, a veteran strategist who most recently served as Marriage Project Director for Gill Action after winning the campaign to bring marriage equality to Maine, to serve as the campaign manager. A majority of states lack laws protecting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people from workplace bias and there is no federal law explicitly barring employment discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

“No one should be fired for who they are or who they love, and the Employment Non-Discrimination Act is a bipartisan, common-sense way to put those values into federal law,” said McTighe. “Our campaign will mobilize the supermajority of diverse Americans who believe in workplace fairness and push Congress to act on ENDA this year.”

The steering committee of Americans for Workplace Opportunity is a diverse and bipartisan group of organizations composed of: American Civil Liberties Union, American Unity Fund, Human Rights Campaign, Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, National Center for Transgender Equality, National Gay & Lesbian Task Force, and the Service Employees International Union. Dozens of other organizations that support ENDA will also be involved in the coalition.

National Center for Transgender Equality Executive Director Mara Keisling said: “A job is more than just a job. Having a job means access to health care and ensuring the security of our families. Today, too many trans people are denied that opportunity because of who they are. As Congress debates a bill that most Americans already believe is law, transgender and LGB Americans continue to be denied jobs, promotions and fair wages. Right now, Senators are the only ones who can take action to stop that. The U.S. Senate must act now to make it possible for all Americans to contribute to our economy and our country.”

This national campaign depends on a strong grassroots base to ensure its success, especially as we enter the August Congressional recess. Learn about how to push ENDA forward while your member of Congress is at home at our August Recess Action Center.

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NCTE Celebrates Historic Senate Committee Action to End Trans Job Discrimination

July 10, 2013

In a historic 15-7 bipartisan vote, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee moved the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) to the Senate floor. Today’s committee action marks the first time ENDA has seen movement with gender identity protections.

National Center for Transgender Equality Executive Director Mara Keisling said:

“We are extremely heartened that the Senate HELP committee passed ENDA today, moving it to the full Senate for action sometime this fall. With every Committee Democrat and three Republicans voting ‘yes,’ we are increasingly optimistic that we will have the 60 votes in the Senate and move further along towards winning relief for trans people who still face shocking amounts of job discrimination.”

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