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Federal agency rules for transgender women in employment discrimination case

The US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) [official website] has ruled in favor of a transgender woman who endured physical and verbal harassment during her employment as a federal contractor in Maryland. The woman, who has not been publicly identified [Advocate report], filed a complaint last year under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 [text]. The EEOC held that the woman's supervisors violated Title VII by failing to intervene upon learning of the harassment, therefore creating a hostile work environment. In 2012 the EEOC held that "intentional discrimination against a transgender individual because that person is transgender, is, by definition, discrimination 'based on ... sex." Title VII prohibits discrimination based on sex.

The EEOC first extended gender identity Title VII protection in 2012 to Mia Macy [Metroweekly report], a qualified transgender woman whose job offer was rescinded by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) [official website] once the agency learned of Macy's transgender status. Macy initially filed a complaint with ATF's equal employment office, which denied the request because transgender discrimination was not protected under Title VII. Macy appealed the decision to the EEOC where the commissioners held [opinion] that transgender discrimination was prohibited under the Act. That ruling was adopted [decision, PDF] by the Department of Justice last week.

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