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Is discrimination against transgender people illegal?

| Sep 8, 2018 | Employment Law - Employees

It’s a must that employers in West Virginia ensure that their workplaces are inclusive, non-hostile environments. This is especially important for transgender employees, who face a great deal of discrimination on a daily basis. Justia.com explains what employers need to know about transgender discrimination, including the different types of situations that can occur.

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission decision

While some states have enacted legislation prohibiting transgender discrimination, there are no federal laws regarding this topic. However, a decision made by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has set a new standard. In this case, a transgender woman was turned down for employment after her status was discovered. The EEOC states that this violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which lists sex discrimination as one of the prohibited actions.

Disparate treatment vs. disparate impact

It’s important to understand the difference between disparate treatment and impact. Disparate treatment refers to those policies that are intentionally discriminatory (such as stating that people with certain characteristics will not be hired). Conversely, disparate impact involves policies that are not intentionally discriminatory but that still result in a class of people being affected disproportionately. This is usually the case with rules regarding correct bathroom usage, such as by prohibiting a transgender woman from using the female restroom.

Harassment can also occur

Discriminatory acts against transgender people also involves harassment. Harassment creates a hostile work environment for a worker, either through insulting language or direct physical/sexual assault. Once again, harassment of transgender workers can be covered under sex discrimination in Title VII. If a transgender worker is fired due to transitioning, he or she can also file a wrongful termination claim.  

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