Labor: EEOC decision acknowledges protection under Title VII based on transgender status

Macy v. Holder will open the door to discrimination claims based on transgender status at all stages of employment.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently adopted the position that employment discrimination against transgender individuals is a form of sex discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The decision, though not binding on courts, will likely have a significant impact on employers in all sectors as courts typically defer to the EEOC’s interpretation of Title VII. In essence, the decision indicates that the EEOC considers “transgender” to now constitute a protected class under Title VII.

The decision, Macy v. Holder, involved a transgender woman who was born male and, at the time of application, still presented as a male. The applicant, Mia Macy, was a veteran police detective with military and law enforcement background who applied for a position as a ballistics technician at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF). After discussing the position over the phone, Macy was informed that she would be hired pending a background check.

Contributing Author

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John Kuenstler

John F. Kuenstler is a partner in the Chicago office of Barnes & Thornburg LLP and a member of the Labor and Employment Department. Mr....

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