In a memo released by the Department of Justice yesterday, Attorney General Holder directed government attorneys to no longer exclude gender identity, including transgender issues, from Title VII’s protection against sex discrimination. This is the latest development in a trend showing that the federal government considers discrimination against transgender individuals to be unlawful and will actively pursue such claims. Earlier this year the OFCCP issued a directive that it would investigate gender identity claims as sex discrimination claims. In the last few months of 2014, the EEOC filed two separate actions on behalf of transgender citizens who claimed workplace discrimination.
Employers should note that the EEOC, the OFCCP, and now the Department of Justice are officially on the same page and will be focusing on these types of charges. It might be a good time to re-examine your anti-discrimination language in handbooks and policies and make sure you have in place policies and procedures to address transgender employees’ needs.