Last month, Lanier Ford attorney Lauren Smith wrote about the EEOC’s federal-sector decisions involving application of the anti-discrimination protections of Title VII to transgender employees. The blog post noted that the federal-sector decision was not binding on private employers, but nonetheless gives important insight into the EEOC’s position on this issue.
The latest move by the EEOC proves that point: On June 5, 2015, the EEOC filed a federal lawsuit against a Minnesota-based check-printing and financial services company, charging that it violated federal law by subjecting a transgender employee to a hostile work environment, and illegally refused to allow the employee to use the female restrooms. In so doing, the EEOC actually cited its federal sector decisions—the same ones we wrote about recently.
As noted previously, the EEOC has the authority to adopt binding regulations interpreting the anti-discrimination provisions of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, and also the power to file lawsuits in federal court against private employers who it claims violate those provisions. While the EEOC does not always win, battling a regulatory agency of the United States is always a major undertaking. Even when the EEOC loses a given case, its actions influence the development of the law nationwide. Employers would be well-served to take note of this recent activity and begin training employees with regard to the best practices for handling issues with members of the lesbian, gay, and transgender community.
Lanier Ford’s employment attorneys are always available to assist in structuring these training protocols, providing direct training to staff, and also guiding management in interpreting the latest trends in anti-discrimination law.
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