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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, December 19, 2014 - Volume 42 Issue 51
Eric Holder announces Transgender people are covered by Civil Rights Act
Section One
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Eric Holder announces Transgender people are covered by Civil Rights Act

by Shaun Knittel - SGN Associate Editor On December 18, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, in a policy reversal, issued a memo stating that 'the best reading' of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 does protect Transgender people from sex discrimination.

'I have determined that the best reading of Title VII's prohibition of sex discrimination is that it encompasses discrimination based on gender identity, including transgender status,' the outgoing head of the Justice Department said.

'This important shift will ensure that the protections of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 are extended to those who suffer discrimination based on gender identity, including transgender status,' Holder added. 'This will help to foster fair and consistent treatment for all claimants. And it reaffirms the Justice Department's commitment to protecting the civil rights of all Americans.'

'The decision by Attorney General Holder to fully embrace the legal standard set forth in Macy will go a long way towards advancing equality for the transgender community,' said Sarah Warbelow, Human Rights Campaign's Legal Director. 'Transgender people continue to face some of the highest levels of discrimination in the workplace. We are thrilled to see the Department of Justice take this important step.'

In 2012, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) determined in Macy v. Holder that discrimination based on an individual's gender identity is sex discrimination and thus constitutes a violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Earlier this year, the EEOC filed complaints in federal courts in Florida and Michigan against two separate companies accused of discriminating against transgender employees, Amiee Stephens of Michigan and Brandi Branson of Florida. Amiee Stephens was fired from R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Home, Inc., in Michigan after informing her employer that she was transitioning from male to female and would be dressing appropriately to represent her affirmed gender. Brandi Branson was fired from Lakeland Eye Clinic in Florida after acknowledging to her employer that she was transitioning from male to female.

Other groups are wondering if this could usher in more changes to anti-Trans policies.

In a press release, the American Military Partner Association (AMPA), said it is 'calling on the Defense Department to end its currently unjustified sex discrimination against Transgender troops by lifting the ban against open and honest service.'

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