Best Ohio Gender Discrimination Attorney Answer: Are transgendered people protected under anti-discrimination laws? Can an employer fire somebody because they are undergoing a sex change? Can my employer fire me because I don’t conform to stereotypes about my gender? Can I lose my job because I am a man that wears makeup?
As our employment discrimination attorneys have blogged before, homosexuals and transgendered people are not protected under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, or Ohio’s anti-discrimination statute, R.C. §4112.99. (See Can An Employer Refuse To Hire Me Because I’m Transgendered? I Need A Lawyer!; Can My Employer Discriminate Against Me Because I Am LGBT? I Need A Top Attorney!; Top Employment Lawyer Reply: Can My Job Discriminate Against Me Because Of My Sexual Orientation?; and LGBT Employment Rights: Can I Be Fired For Dressing Too Masculine?)
However, it is against the law to discriminate against someone “because of sex.” Thus, if an employee is terminated because they do not conform to the employers gender-based expectations, preferences, or stereotypes, it is “because of sex” and illegal.
This very issue recently came up in the United States Court for the Eastern District Court Of Michigan. In that employment discrimination case, the former employee, Stephens, had been a Funeral Director and Embalmer for the employer since October of 2007. During this time, Stephen had solid performance record. Then, in July of 2013, Stephen advised her employer and her co-workers that she was undergoing a change from male to female, and would soon appear at work in female clothing. Only a few weeks later, Stephens was wrongfully terminated. As justification for her termination, the employer didn’t even try to disguise its motivation, telling Stephens what she was “proposing to do” was unacceptable.
Stephens filed a claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”), who in keeping with the EEOC tradition of only filing certain kinds of cases, filed a lawsuit alleging that, among other claims, the employer had violated Title VII when it terminated Stephens because she wanted to undergo a sex change.
The employer responded by filing a motion to dismiss Stephens’ claims under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), arguing that because transgenderism was not a protected class, Stephens could not state a claim under Title VII.
The Court agreed with the employer that transgendered people were not a protected class under Title VII, but nonetheless refused to dismiss Stephens Title VII claim, finding that under established Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals (Ohio) precedent, discriminating against somebody because of their failure to conform to gender stereotypes is a form of gender discrimination:
If the EEOC’s complaint had alleged that the Funeral Home fired Stephens based solely upon Stephens’ status as a transgender person, then this Court would agree with the Funeral Home that the EEOC’s complaint would fail to state a claim under Title VII. That is because, like sexual orientation, transgender or transsexual status is currently not a protected class under Title VII….
Even though transgender/transsexual status is currently not a protected class under Title VII, Title VII nevertheless “protects transsexual persons from discrimination for failing to act in accordance and/or identify with their perceived sex or gender.” …
[A] n employer who discriminates against women because, for instance, they do not wear dresses or makeup, is engaging in sex discrimination because the discrimination would not occur but for the victim’s sex. It follows that employers who discriminate against men because they do wear dresses and makeup, or otherwise act femininely, are also engaging in sex discrimination, because the discrimination would not occur but for the victim’s sex….
Here, the EEOC’s complaint alleges that Stephens informed the Funeral Home that Stephens “was undergoing a gender transition from male to female and intended to dress in appropriate business attire at work as a woman from then on,” and that the Funeral Home responded by firing Stephens and stating that what Stephens “was ‘proposing to do’ was unacceptable.” The complaint further alleges that the Funeral Home’s “decision to fire Stephens was motivated by sex-based considerations,” and that the Funeral Home fired Stephens because Stephens “did not conform to the [Funeral Home’s] sex- or gender-based preferences, expectations, or stereotypes.”
This Court concludes that, having alleged that Stephens’s failure to conform to sex stereotypes was the driving force behind the Funeral Home’s decision to fire Stephens, the EEOC has sufficiently pleaded a sex-stereotyping gender-discrimination claim under Title VII.
Thus, although transgendered people do not enjoy the full benefit of protection afforded to others under Title VII, employers nonetheless may not discriminate against them because of their transgender behavior.
If you are searching “I need a lawyer because I have was wrongfully fired or terminated today;” or “I have been discriminated against because I am …” gay, a lesbian, bisexual, or transgendered; or even think that you might need an employment law lawyer, then it would be best to call the right attorney to schedule a free and confidential consultation at 866-797-6040. Your employment rights are constantly changing and the best way to find out if you can sue your boss, manager, supervisor or employer for discrimination, harassment, or wrongful termination is to call Spitz, The Employee’s Law Firm and talk to its attorneys, who are experienced and dedicated to protecting the rights of employees just like you.
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