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EEOC Officially Extends Gender Discrimination Protections To Transgender Employees

Former Phoenix police detective and military veteran Mia Macy was offered a job as a ballistics technician at a California lab with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) in 2010. At that time, Macy was a man. During the time period that the agency was running a background check, Macy underwent the transition to live as a female.

Macy let her new employer know of the change and moved to the Bay Area with her wife. She was then told that the ATF position had been eliminated due to budget cuts but later found out that the job had been filled by another applicant. Macy filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in 2011, claiming gender discrimination.

Macy had initially reported the discrimination to the ATF, but her claim was denied. According to the ATF, gender identity was not protected under anti-discrimination laws. The EEOC declined to take the same position as the ATF, finding that discrimination based on gender identity is a form of sex or gender discrimination.

"The term 'gender' encompasses not just a person's biological sex but also the cultural and social aspects associated with masculinity and femininity," noted the EEOC in its decision.

Both private and public employers are prohibited from discriminating against employees or prospective employees on the basis of sex, race, color, religion, and national origin by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Transgender advocates note that this is a landmark decision that uniformly allows for the protection of transgendered individuals from bias and discrimination in the workplace.

Source: LA Times, "Ruling allows transgender woman to sue for job discrimination," April 24, 2012

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