New protections for trans people score first legal victory

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The first case alleging sex discrimination against a transgender employee filed using new federal protections was settled on Thursday.


A Lakeland, Fla.-based group of health care professionals will pay $150,000 to an employee who was fired after she informed her bosses that she was transgender and began to present as a woman.

This is the first case to use new civil rights protections for trans employees announced in December 2014. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder issued a memo detailing the Civil Rights Act of 1964 would protect transgender people under the sex discrimination prohibition in Title VII.


“This historic settlement is significant,” said David Lopez, the general counsel at Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, in a statement. “It not only is one of the first two lawsuits ever filed by the Commission alleging sex discrimination against a transgender individual, but it also solidifies the EEOC’s commitment to enforcing the rights of transgender employees secured by Title VII.”

Lakeland Eye Clinic, the defendant, also agreed to implement a new gender discrimination policy that prohibits discrimination against employees who are transgender “or because the employee does not conform to Lakeland’s sex- or gender-based preferences, expectations, or stereotypes.”

Lakeland also agreed to provide training to its managers and employees explaining the prohibition against transgender discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.

The other EEOC lawsuit alleging discrimination against a transgender individual, EEOC v. Harris Funeral Home, is on-going.

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