EEOC Lawsuit Expands Sex Discrimination Ban to Include Transgender Workers

October 03, 2014

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has filed two lawsuits against employers in Michigan and Florida alleging sex discrimination under Title VII against transgender workers based on a 2012 administrative proceeding involving a federal agency.  The new lawsuits are the EEOC's effort to extend to the private sector its 2012 ruling against the Department of Justice that held Title VII's ban on sex discrimination prohibits "sex stereotyping" (i.e., the failure to conform to gender-based expectations).  The EEOC claims the women were discriminated against because they are transgender, were transitioning from male to female, and/or did not conform to their employer's gender- or sex-based stereotypes, expectations or preferences.  The lawsuit is the latest effort by the federal government to extend non-discrimination protection to transgender workers.  In August, the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs released a new enforcement directive clarifying that sex-based job discrimination under Executive Order 11246 includes bias based on gender identity and transgender status, and in July, President Obama issued Executive Order 13672 prohibiting federal contractors from discriminating against LGBT employees and job applicants.  OFCCP is currently working on a proposed rule to implement the Executive Order, which also requires affirmative action efforts regarding LGBT employees.