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Labor Department acts to protect transgender employees

In April of 2012, the influential Equal Employment Opportunity Commission held in a case entitled Macy v. Holder that employment discrimination against transgender individuals is indeed considered sex discrimination under the meaning advanced by federal law. This landmark case inspired hope within the LGBT community and among human rights advocates that transgender workers would be subjected to fewer and fewer instances of employment discrimination and that transgender discrimination victims would more easily be able to hold responsible parties accountable in court.

However, little has changed practically in the two years since Macy v. Holder was decided. Since that time, the U.S. Department of Labor has declined to clarify whether or not this ruling would be applied in ways that effectively protect transgender workers employed by federal contractors. After two long years of waiting for such clarification, the Labor Department has finally delivered.

Oddly, the clarification was not released in a formal press release or at a press conference. Instead, the Director of the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs confirmed the properly broad application of this holding in a blog post published earlier this month.

The relatively casual nature of this confirmation could be construed as somewhat insulting. After all, this protection is critically important for an untold number of American workers. However, the casual delivery could also be interpreted as, “Of course it applies, why do you even need such clarification when the EEOC’s ruling is so clear?” Either way, it is a welcome clarification to say the least.

Source: Metro Weekly, “Labor Department protects transgender employees of federal contractors,” Justin Snow, Aug. 19, 2014

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