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EEOC extends sex discrimination protection to transgender people

In a progressive and groundbreaking ruling, the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission has extended the right to sue for sex discrimination to transgendered individuals. The ruling follows logically from the protections under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which prohibits sex discrimination.

Sex discrimination generally means any kind of different treatment based on an employee's sex. In this case, a person whose biological sex was male had a job offer revoked when the employer learned that the person intended to transition to living as a woman. While this clearly had no impact on the military veteran's ability to perform job duties at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, her future bosses informed her that the position was no longer available.

It is especially shocking to see this type of behavior coming from a government employer who should know better than to discriminate against diverse individuals.

When the person filed a complaint with the bureau itself, they referred the matter to the Justice Department and the EEOC, citing that it would be a sex discrimination issue. The EEOC ruling said that "intentional discrimination against a transgender individual because that person is transgender" is clearly prohibited.

This ruling could have a wide ranging impact on discrimination claims for transgender people. This may represent a shift in policy generally to provide better recognition for this group in all areas of discrimination law.

The lawsuit requests that the plaintiff be given the job that she was originally offered and asks for compensation for economic losses caused by the discrimination.

Source: New York Times, "Ruling Extends Sex-Discrimination Protection to Transgender Woman Denied Federal Job," Jesse McKinley, April 24, 2012.

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