EEOC found April 23 that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 extends to gender identity, marking the first time the agency, which enforces federal nondiscrimination laws, came to such a conclusion.
The landmark ruling was handed down in the case of Mia Macy, a transgender woman who was denied employment by the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
Macy applied for an ATF ballistics technician job as a male but disclosed her intent to transition during the hiring process, and was then informed that the position was cut for lack of funding.
Another candidate was later chosen to fill the position.
“As a veteran and a police officer, I’ve worked my whole career to uphold the values of fairness and equality,” Macy said in a statement Tuesday. “Although the discrimination I experienced was painful both personally and financially, and led to the loss of my family’s home to foreclosure, I’m proud to be a part of this groundbreaking decision confirming that our nation’s employment discrimination laws protect all Americans, including transgender people.”
Macy said the Transgender Law Center, which handled her case, should be praised.
“With so many barriers to gainful employment in our society, we can’t let discrimination be one of them,” said TLC executive director Masen Davis. “The EEOC’s decision ensures that every transgender person in the United States will have legal resources when faced with employment discrimination. Having the protection of federal law is especially critical for transgender people who live in the 34 states that lack transgender-inclusive nondiscrimination laws. This is a game-changer for transgender America.”
Pennsylvania is one of the states that does not have a transgender-inclusive nondiscrimination law.
Although efforts to instate a federal law to protect all American workers from discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity have been stalled for years, the EEOC ruling will allow trans workers who are contending discrimination to file credible complaints with the EEOC.
The ruling will be binding for all federal agencies and upheld by all local EEOC chapters throughout the nation.
In issuing its ruling, the commission acknowledged that protections based on sex discrimination should go beyond basic anatomy, as “the term ‘gender’ encompasses not only a person’s biological sex but also the cultural and social aspects associated with masculinity and femininity.’”
The finding was unanimously agreed upon by the bipartisan five-member commission.