EEOC Landmark Lawsuit Supports Transgender Workers

Women's Legs at Bar

Transgender people face a lot of discrimination in the world today. Not only are they often the target of hate crimes, but they often have trouble securing the most basic of needs such as housing, health care, and employment. The National Center for Transgender Equality reports 1 in 5 trans people have been denied housing based on their gender identity, and 3 out of 4 have experienced some form of workplace discrimination or harassment.

For the first time ever the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, a federal agency that enforces workplace equality in the United States, has filed a lawsuit to support transgender workers who filed a claim against two different companies. According to the claims, one trans woman, Amiee Stephenson, was fired from her position as a Funeral Director and Embalmer at RG & GR Harris Funeral Homes in Detroit because she was transgender. She was fired in 2013, two weeks after presenting a letter to her employer informing them of her transition. Another TS woman in Florida was fired from her job at Lakeland Eye Clinic under similar circumstances, after telling her employers of her plan to transition from male to female.

It’s been a long haul to get transgender workers protected under 1964’s Civil Rights Act. This is the first time such a suit has been filed against a private company, and it’s all thanks to the groundbreaking lawsuit Macy vs. Holder, which passed in 2012, causing the EEOC to decide that gender identity fell under the act’s “sex discrimination” category. Mia Macy sued the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives after having been promised a job with the agency, pending a background check, but then denied the job once she informed them of her intention to transition.

Harriet Randall, a legal consultant for told us her take on the monumental law suit. “This is really amazing – a government agency standing up for trans women. The community has been fighting for this kind of equality for a long time, and now we are starting to see real progress. A case like this will give other trans women the confidence to live their lives – the way they want!”

As transgender people become more out and proud in society, expect to see more lawsuits like this, and expect them to be won!

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