New York employers should take note of the continuing focus of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on the discrimination of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees. The EEOC has filed a lawsuit against Deluxe Financial Services, a company best known for check printing, on behalf of a transgender employee who claimed workplace discrimination.
The employee had worked for Deluxe for years before adopting a female gender presentation. At that point, according to the worker's complaint, the employer refused the person access to the women's bathroom. Co-workers also directed hostile language toward the person. Since 2012, the EEOC has made clear its intention to defend workers from discrimination based on sexuality and transgender lifestyle. However, questions about how legal protections apply to transgender people remain unanswered.
The EEOC maintains that Title VII of the Civil Right Act of 1964 does protect transgender people, and cases this century could lend strength to the commission's position. For example, in a 2004 case, a transgender employee's complaint did potentially meet the standards of Title VII, according to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit. That employee had been suspended from work after changing gender. More recently, in 2014, a federal district court in Michigan noted that a transgender employee's discrimination claim survived summary judgment.
The above cases show examples of retaliatory acts that could support of a person's charge of workplace discrimination. A person who believes that race, ethnicity, gender, age or sexuality have aroused hostility from an employer may choose to evaluate the evidence with the assistance of an attorney. Workplace discrimination lawsuits typically seek lost pay and reinstatement and, in some cases, punitive damages.
Source: The National Law Review, "EEOC Targets Minnesota Company for Alleged Transgender Discrimination", Andrew D. Peters, June 17, 2015