EEOC’s Litigation on Behalf of Transgender Employees Reveals Reach (and Limits) of Federal Anti-Discrimination Law
In September 2014, the EEOC filed its first employment discrimination lawsuits on behalf of transgender employees. (Rachel Stroup previously wrote about those suits, and related moves by the federal government to recognize antidiscrimination protection for transgender individuals, here.) The first of those suits, against an eye clinic, has settled; the clinic agreed to pay the employee $150,000 as well as to take specified proactive actions to avoid discrimination in the future. The second, EEOC v. R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes, Inc., is a suit pending in the Eastern District of Michigan on behalf of a transgender employee, Amiee Stephens, whose employer, a funeral home, allegedly fired her when she informed it that she was undergoing a gender transition from male to female and intended to dress in appropriate business attire as a woman. That case has just survived the defendant’s motion to dismiss. The Court’s reasoning should encourage employees who believe that they are experiencing discrimination due to transgender status to stand up for their rights, but it also reveals continuing gaps in federal discrimination law that Congress should act to remedy.