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Transgender discrimination lawsuit could become a landmark case

The U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals -- which covers Texas and two other states -- is set to rule for the first time on whether transgender individuals are covered by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center  a recent discrimination claim is now the fourth federal lawsuit filed during the Obama presidency which claims that the protections under Title VII extend to people who are transgender. A transgender man alleges that he was the victim of discrimination because of his gender identity while working for a lending services provider in a nearby state.

A lawsuit was filed on the plaintiff's behalf by the Southern Poverty Law Center and additional civil rights groups; the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission subsequently joined the litigation. The man was hired as a manger in training in 2013. He was asked to show his driver's license at the time of his hiring, which portrayed him as a woman. When the plaintiff was questioned, he informed the company that he was transgender. It is acknowledged that the vice president of the company met with the plaintiff a week later and told him that he must come to work dressed as a female.

The man was apparently also told that he must sign a document agreeing that he would have to share a hotel room with female co-workers on business trips that required an overnight stay. He was also asked to sign documentation that stated that he is violating the company policy because he was born a woman, but chooses to present himself as a man. The vice president allegedly also told the plaintiff that the company would permit him to dress as a man if he underwent an operation for a sex change. The company denies that statement was ever made.

According to the EEOC, this discrimination lawsuit could potentially be a landmark case for transgender rights. The defendant and the EEOC are at odds on where this case should be heard within the the 5th Circuit, if the litigation is to proceed at the federal level. Similarly situated Texas workers who believe their civil rights have been violated on the job have every right to seek advice and assistance from an attorney experienced in handling employment law discrimination claims. 

Source: wwltv.com, "EEOC backs Louisiana transgender man's discrimination lawsuit", David Hammer, Sept. 18, 2015

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