Transgender Rights in the Workplace
In a landmark ruling on April 20, 2012, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced that Title VII, the federal sex discrimination law, protects employees who are discriminated against because they are transgender or gender non-conforming. Watch this informative webinar with Ilona Turner, Legal Director, and Sasha Buchert, Staff Attorney.
Employment Client Story: Ashley Yang
In July 2010, Ashley Yang was fired from her job as an officer for the Transportation Security Administration for being a woman. Her termination followed two years of harassment, discrimination, and managers forcing her to pretend to be a man to keep her job. On the anniversary of her termination, Ms. Yang and Transgender Law Center completed a settlement against the TSA, representing a major step forward for the treatment of transgender people in the workplace.
Victory: Mia Macy
In a landmark ruling on April 20, 2012, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has announced that Title VII, the federal sex discrimination law, protects employees who are discriminated against because they are transgender. In its unprecedented decision, the EEOC concluded that “intentional discrimination against a transgender individual because that person is transgender is, by definition, discrimination ‘based on … sex’ and such discrimination … violates Title VII.”
Discrimination is a major contributor to the tremendously high rates of unemployment and underemployment faced by transgender people. Transgender Law Center supports working people in their efforts to get and stay employed no matter how they express their gender. By helping people who face discrimination on the job and through partnerships that help people find jobs, we are advocating for better legal protections for workers who don’t find narrow gender stereotypes.
Transgender Law Center combats workplace discrimination by providing information about the law, as well as about how to file a discrimination complaint with state, federal, and local agencies. We work to improve local, state, and federal policies affecting transgender people at work. We also provide “know your rights” trainings to transgender employees and job-seekers. We educate employers about their legal obligations to create workplaces free from discrimination and harassment. When possible, we also represent transgender employees who have been discriminated against at work or while applying for a job.
Transgender Law Center is also proud to be a partner in the Transgender Economic Empowerment Initiative (TEEI). TEEI, a collaboration between us, the San Francisco LGBT Center, and Jewish Vocational Service, is the nation’s first coordinated program to transform the economic health of transgender communities by turning around the high rates of unemployment and creating stability for transgender people and their families. TEEI links employees with employers, provides support and skills building for job seekers and newly placed employees, and supports employers to create truly trans-inclusive workplaces. Find out more at www.teeisf.org.
Transgender Law Center Publications:
- Know Your Rights: Transgender Employment Law
An information and resource publication for transgender employees in California
- EEOC Ruling F.A.Q.
- Model Employer Policy
- Tips for Working with Transgender Coworkers
- Tips for Lawyers Working with Transgender Clients and Coworkers
- Transgender Employees and Tenants in California: Rights and Responsibilities
- The State of Transgender California
A 2009 report about the extent of discrimination faced by transgender Californians
- Good Jobs Now: A Snapshot of the Economic Health of San Francisco’s Transgender Communities
Places to file employment discrimination complaints:
- File a complaint with the EEOC
- File a complaint under CA state law – Dept. of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH)
- File a complaint under federal law (non federal employees) – Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)
- File a complaint under federal law (for federal employees)- contact your agency EEO office
- File a complaint because you have received incorrect wages in California – Department of Industrial Relations, Division of Labor Standards Enforcement
- File a complaint against a San Francisco employer – San Francisco Human Rights Commission LGBT division
Resources for finding a job in San Francisco and Los Angeles:
- SF: Transgender Economic Empowerment Initiative (TEEI)
- L.A.: Transgender Economic Empowerment Project (TEEP)
Text of California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA)
It is unlawful for an employer to refuse to hire or employ a person or to discharge a person from employment or to discriminate against a person in compensation or in terms, conditions, or privileges of employment because of the person’s…gender identity or gender expression[.] Cal. Gov’t. Code Section 12940(a); click here for more information
Transgender Law Center is at the forefront of changing laws, policies and attitudes affecting transgender people at work.
In 2002, we helped pass a law, the Gender Nondiscrimination Act of 2003 (AB 196) that ensured that transgender and gender nonconforming people in California have legal protection from employment discrimination. Then, in 2011, we passed the Gender Nondiscrimination Act, which further clarified that we are all protected from workplace discrimination based on our gender identity and expression. You can read more about the Gender Nondiscrimination Act here.
On the federal level, we have worked hard to help pass the Employment Non Discrimination Act (ENDA), a bill that would specifically say that LGBT people cannot be discriminated against at work all over the country. You can read our most recent testimony to the Senate on ENDA here.
In the coming years, we are working to further advance protective laws and policies to make sure that transgender people can work as our full, authentic selves. This means being able to express our genders freely, having equal access to restrooms, being free from harassment, and many other things.
There are many ways to get involved in our work combating employment discrimination. Join us at Transgender Advocacy Day and the Transgender Leadership Summit to learn more about your rights and how to educate policy makers and employers. Share your story with us so we can use it in our advocacy by emailing us.
Mia Macy v. Eric Holder
Transgender Law Center brought this case on behalf of Mia Macy, a veteran and a former police detective. She was denied a job as a ballistics technician at the Walnut Creek, California laboratory of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) after coming out as transgender. Mia was exceptionally qualified for the position, with her military and law enforcement background. She was also one of the few people in the country with specialized training and experience on the ATF’s ballistics computer system.
Mia initially applied for the position as male, because she was in the early stages of transitioning and had not yet legally changed her name. The ATF lab director told her that the job was hers and she would just have to go through the formality of a background check. After she disclosed her gender transition mid-way through the hiring process, Mia was suddenly told that funding for that position had been cut. She later learned that someone else had been hired for the job.
Transgender Law Center helped Mia file a discrimination complaint with ATF. We argued that the agency’s discrimination against Mia violated the federal sex discrimination law, known as Title VII. ATF refused to process the complaint properly, asserting that, in its view, Title VII did not cover discrimination against transgender people. Transgender Law Center appealed this determination to the EEOC, which issued a decision on April 20, 2012, holding for the first time that Title VII’s prohibition against sex discrimination includes discrimination against transgender employees. The EEOC directed ATF to accept Mia’s complaint and apply Title VII to her case.
Ashley Yang v. Transportation Security Administration
In July 2010, Ashley Yang was fired from her job as an officer for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) for being a transgender woman. Her termination followed two years of harassment and discrimination, during which managers forced her to pretend to be a man to keep her job. Transgender Law Center helped Ashley file a discrimination complaint against the TSA. On the anniversary of her termination, we won a significant settlement on her behalf from the TSA.
- TLC Responds to Barnes & Noble Statement May 8, 2015
- Transgender Employee Takes Action Against Barnes & Noble for Discrimination May 6, 2015
- Groundbreaking EEOC ruling finds the Army discriminated against transgender employee by denying bathroom access, pronouns April 8, 2015
- TLC Testifies at Historic Hearing on LGBT Workplace Discrimination March 16, 2015
- TLC, NCLR, and EQCA Sponsor California Equal Benefits Bill March 5, 2015
- TLC Thanks Mark Snyder for 3 years of Service! November 14, 2014
- Victory! TLC Client Wins Discrimination Case October 23, 2014
- Victory in Employment Discrimination Case! August 27, 2014
- Meet the Transgender Hobby Lobby Employee Fighting for Understanding and Equal Opportunities July 29, 2014
- Progress: Executive Order Signed! July 21, 2014