Transgender Discrimination in the Workplace

In many states, it is still legal for employers to discharge employees based on their gender identity, and there are no clear-cut laws passed by Congress that prevent gender identity discrimination in the workplace. Some cities and states have passed local legislation to protect residents from employer bias and wrongful termination. According to the American Civil Liberties Union, Philadelphia is one of the nation’s cities that has banned gender identity discrimination. In addition, Pennsylvania’s governor issued an executive order to make discrimination against transgender state workers illegal, although there is not currently a statewide law that protects those working for privately held companies.

Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act does ban sexual discrimination in businesses with more than 14 employees. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is responsible for investigating reports of discrimination in the workplace, and in 2012, that agency ruled that sexual discrimination includes discrimination against transgender employees. The U.S. Department of Justice has also adopted this interpretation, according to an announcement by the Attorney General last year, and more than one federal appeals court has ruled against transgender discrimination in the workplace.

Soon, transgender persons everywhere in the United States may be protected from unlawful discrimination in the workplace, thanks to a bill that is gaining bipartisan public support. According to the Human Rights Campaign, the Equality Act would protect all those in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community from discrimination in the workplace with clear language that provides fully-inclusive protections. With a record number of co-sponsors, this bill may soon become the legislation that ensures that all employees can be safe from wrongful termination because of gender identity.

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