Transgender victims of workplace discrimination are for the first time finding restitution in a pair of decisions handed down from the federal government finding anti-trans job bias at two institutions — one a federal contractor, the other an arm of the U.S. government.
The two decisions — first reported by Buzzfeed — are the result of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which is charged with enforcing laws against workplace discrimination, finding last year in a historic, unanimous decision transgender workplace discrimination amounts to gender discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.
One of the decisions is the culmination of litigation in that very case, known as Macy v. Holder, was initiated by the Transgender Law Center after the plaintiff was told she wouldn’t receive a job at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives’s crime laboratory in Walnut Creek, Calif., after she announced she would transition from male to female.
On July 8, the Department of Justice — to which the case was remanded after the EEOC made its decision last year — issued a final decision finding Macy indeed faced discrimination when she applied for the position and awarding her relief.
“[T]his office finds that the ATF discriminated against complainant based on her transgender status, and thus her sex, when it stopped complainant’s further participation in the hiring process for the NIBIN Ballistics Forensics Technician Laboratory position,” the decision states.
After applying for the job, Macy was told in January 2011 that she would receive a position at the laboratory. But after she disclosed in March 2011 she would transition from male to female, the contractor informed Macy the position was cut. Later, she was told someone else was awarded the job.
The 51-page decision — which was signed by Complaint Adjudication Officer Mark Gross and Complaint Adjudication Office Attorney Carl Taylor — lays out several terms for relief in the Macy case.
First, the Justice Department says ATF within 60 days of the decision must offer Macy that job she was seeking at the Walnut Creek factory and award her back pay and benefits — with interest — for the period between April 2011 to January 2012.
Additionally, the Justice Department says ATF must take corrective action to ensure future discrimination never occurs again; award Macy compensatory damages for any injuries she may have received; refund Macy her attorney’s fees; and post a notice within 30 days consistent with employment law.
In the other case, another transgender victim of workplace discrimination this week reached a settlement in a case filed against a Maryland federal contractor, according to the LGBT groups Freedom to Work and Lambda Legal, which represented the plaintiff in the case.
Little information is public about this case because the groups agreed as part of the settlement to withhold the amount won in damages, the name of the plaintiff and the name of the federal contractor.
However, the groups did disclose the nature of the discrimination the victim suffered, which included physical and verbal harassment over a two-year period and name-calling such as being called “tranny,” “drag queen” and “faggot.” According to the groups, the case moved forward after the EEOC reviewed the case and, in September 2012, issued a letter finding there was reasonable cause to believe the contractor engaged in transgender discrimination.
Tico Almeida, president of Freedom to Work, applauded EEOC for conducting a thorough examination that led to the victory for the alleged victim of transgender workplace discrimination.
“Coming just a few months after the EEOC issued its historic decision that transgender people are protected by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, the EEOC’s reasonable cause determination in this case is, to our knowledge, the first time in history that the EEOC has investigated allegations of anti-transgender harassment and ruled for the transgender employee,” Almeida said. “This case shows that the EEOC takes very seriously its role in protecting LGBT Americans’ freedom to work.”
Since the Employment Non-Discrimination Act isn’t law and Maryland has no statewide protections against anti-transgender discrimination, Title VII was the only way for the plaintiff in the case to seek legal restitution in response to the discrimination she faced. If President Obama signed an executive order prohibiting anti-LGBT workplace among federal contractors, that could have provided another source of relief, but the White House continues to withhold that directive.
Greg Nevins, supervising senior staff attorney in Lambda Legal’s Southern Regional Office in Atlanta, said the case demonstrates more action is needed at the federal level to protect workers from anti-LGBT discrimination.
“We need action by the 113th Congress to pass the Employment Nondiscrimination Act, and even more immediately, President Obama should sign the executive order banning LGBT discrimination by companies that profit from federal contracts,” Nevins said. “That executive order should have broad support across the political spectrum, since federal dollars should neither fund discrimination nor go to employers whose personnel and productivity suffer because discrimination and harassment are tolerated.”