Transgender people are frequently targeted for abuse and oppression. Even people who do not target same-sex oriented individuals may demonstrate ignorance and bigotry when dealing with transgendering. A recent decision by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission bodes well for transgender employees who want to be free from discrimination in the workplace. The ruling requires the Department of the Army to pay damages based on inappropriate actions toward a transgender employee.
The discrimination was of the type that many transgender people experience. The employer referred to the worker in question by her previous gender and barred her from using the restroom matching her identity. The Army’s position was that it had non-discriminatory reasons for barring her from the using the correct bathroom and instead forcing her to use a single-user, gender-neutral restroom. Fortunately, that rationalization for discrimination did not carry the day.
The EEOC ruling affirmed and extended a decision made by the U.S. Office of Special Counsel in this case last year. The OSC decision agreed that the Department of the Army had acted improperly and required the Army to give sensitivity training on transgender rights. The EEOC decision was the first to require compensation paid to the affected worker. The amount of compensation has not yet been determined.
According to a recent study, 90 percent of transgender people report being subjected to mistreatment and discrimination at work. Recent efforts have been made to reinforce the protection transgender people have in federal employment situations. New Jersey workers are protected from this form of discrimination by state laws. Hopefully in the near future, transgender behavior and status will be protected in every employment situation across the country.
Source: Stars and Stripes, “Army ordered to pay damages to transgender worker for discrimination,” by Josh Hicks, 13 April 2015