Recently, the Maryland Senate passed a bill, called the Fairness for All Marylanders Act of 2014, that would prohibit discrimination against transgender individuals in employment and other areas. By doing so, the state moves closer to making transgendered individuals a protected class. The bill must still pass the House of Delegates before it may be signed into law. Four localities in Maryland have already passed laws barring discrimination against individuals on the basis of gender identity; Baltimore City and Baltimore, Howard and Montgomery counties. If the bill is enacted, Maryland would join over one dozen other states that have similarly banned discrimination on gender identity, including such states as California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington.
Transgendered individuals already have some protection under federal law, although such individuals are not explicitly a protected class. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has held that discrimination against an individual because that person is transgendered (which is also referred to as gender identity discrimination) is discrimination because of sex and, therefore, is covered under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. See Macy v. Dep’t of Justice, EEOC Appeal No. 0120120821 (Apr. 20, 2012). The Commission has also found that claims by lesbian, gay and bisexual individuals alleging sex-stereotyping state a sex discrimination claim under Title VII. See Veretto v. U.S. Postal Service, EEOC Appeal No. 0120110873 (July 1, 2011); Castello v. U.S. Postal Service, EEOC Request No. 0520110649 (Dec. 20, 2011).
Additionally, Congress has been considering versions of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act for several years. The Act would protect against sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination, effectively making them protected classes like race, religion and disability. The most recent version of the bill was referred to the House Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice on January 8, 2014.
You may read the text of the Fairness for All Marylanders Act of 2014 and check the status of the bill at the General Assembly of Maryland’s website.