Thursday, April 23, 2015

EEOC Settles First of Its Transgender Lawsuits

Currently, there is no specific ban on employment discrimination against those in the LGBT community has ENDA has been stalled once again.  However, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has been innovative in using the ban on sex discrimination under Title VII in pursuing these claims under the theory of failure to conform to gender stereotypes and norms.  

Toward that end, last September the EEOC filed its first two lawsuits against private employers alleging sex discrimination under Title VII based on gender identity.  One of those lawsuits against Lakeland Eye Clinic of Florida has settled with the Clinic agreeing to make two payments of $75,000.  The represented plaintiff in that suit, Brandi Branson, had been the Clinic's Director of Hearing Services.  Branson had been hired as a male and began transitioning to female after about six months on the job. The lawsuit claimed that doctors all but stopped referring patients to her and that her position was eventually eliminated in a bogus “RIF.”(A replacement was reportedly hired into the “eliminated” position only two months later.)  The EEOC alleged that the Clinic violated Title VII by discriminating against Ms. Branson because of her sex (failure to conform to gender stereotypes).

The other EEOC lawsuit,  EEOC vs. R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes, Inc. (Case No. 14CV13710 E.D. Mich), against a funeral home operation in the Detroit area, is still pending.

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