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Federal Appellate Court Finds Discrimination on Basis of Transgender/Transitioning Status Violates Title VII

March 13, 2018

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employers from discriminating against applicants and employees on the basis of sex. In a landmark decision, The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit has held that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) may pursue claims that an employee was discriminated against on the basis of transgender status in violation of Title VII. While the Sixth Circuit only has jurisdiction over Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee, other federal courts have made similar decisions.

A Funeral Director was fired within two weeks of informing the owner that she was planning to transition from male to female (and present herself as a female at work). The EEOC filed a complaint against the Funeral Home, alleging it violated Title VII by terminating the Funeral Director “on the basis of transgender or transitioning status and refusal to conform to sex-based stereotypes” and for having a discriminatory clothing allowance. The Court found the Funeral Director was terminated because of her failure to conform to sex-based stereotypes, which violated Title VII.