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Monday, May 7, 2012

The New EEO Transgender Inclusive Policy


On April 20th 2012, the United States Federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission found that in title VII of the 1964 act should be interpreted to include transsexuals and transgendered people. This is a tremendous advancement for us, though there is still a long way to go in our long hard road to equal standing in our society. It does not automatically grant us equal protections in the private or state government workplace.

This policy means that federal employers (the government) may not discriminate against transsexuals in employment situations. There is a question that has arisen whether Federal EEOC policy applies to those who are contractors with the government and require them to comply with EEO standards with regard to gender orientation because they receive federal funding. The most responsible sources I have talked to have informed me that this is the case.

This is not the law of the land today. Many of us will mistakenly believe and continue to feel that this applies to every employment situation. I wish it were true. In order for that to come about, most states' judicial system will have to visit the issue through litigation, which may become a lengthy process if appeals have to reach each state's Supreme Court.

However this is the first major milestone in affording us equal rights and could be what is needed to compel Congress to pass ENDA. It is important to understand that it was the Democrat party that obstructed the passage of ENDA. It was passed in committee, and sent for final markup. The Democrat chair of the committee, did not move the bill forward and it expired in his possession. Not that I believe it would have moved forward under Republican leadership either. We simply must be aware that one's political allegiance is no guarantee of advancing our rights, though it is the Democrat party that has helped us the most. Still we do have allies in the Republican camp and it does not serve us well to blindly endorse one party or the other. We need to learn about each member of the House and the Senate and determine who will help us advance our quest for civil rights.

1 comment:

  1. Changing law is always far better than instances where interpretation is used to implement the law, which is the case you have here. While not explicitly stated by Congress when the law was passed, courts and now the EEOC have interpreted that gender expression and identity is covered under the term, "sex". The EEOC rationale is clearly defined and worth reading in its entirety.

    With that said, I would suggest that the law does cover private employers. My reading of the Act is that while it exempts the US government and specific employers like private clubs, employers with fewer than 15 employees, religions and some other examples, too, it does cover other employers.

    Funny, the Act actually talks about public accommodations, too, in its opening:

    "An Act

    To enforce the constitutional right to vote, to confer jurisdiction upon the district courts of the United States to provide injunctive relief against discrimination in public accommodations, to authorize the attorney General to institute suits to protect constitutional rights in public facilities and public education, to extend the Commission on Civil Rights, to prevent discrimination in federally assisted programs, to establish a Commission on Equal Employment Opportunity, and for other purposes.

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That this Act may be cited as the “Civil Rights Act of 1964”."

    I also firmly believe this is the position that EEOC has taken, highlighting cases against private employers.

    For more information, please check out: