Title VII to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 made many types of workplace discrimination illegal. For example, Title VII protects against race, sex, and national origin discrimination, among others. In the years since the passage of the Civil Rights Act, however, employers continued to discriminate against certain classes of employees, requiring Congress to act to protect these groups.
Thus, Congress eventually passed the Pregnancy Discrimination Act and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act. Still, however, certain groups continue to be discriminated against in the employment setting. Transgender employees are among those who have failed to obtain equal treatment under the law. However, recently, a federal circuit court of appeals issued a written opinion in an employment law case, holding that discrimination based on an employee’s transgender status constitutes sex discrimination under Title VII. This is a very important step toward transgender employees having the full spectrum of protection enjoyed by their colleagues.
The Facts of the Case
The case was brought by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) on behalf of a funeral home employee who told her employer that she planned to transition from a male to a female and would start to wear women’s clothing to work. The funeral home terminated the employee based on a gender-specific dress code policy.