Monday, August 25, 2008
Jillian Weiss of the Transgender Workplace Diversity blog writes about the recent case of Morales v. ATP from the District of Connecticut:
The Connecticut Law Tribune has a story on a federal lawsuit, involving the sexual harassment and termination of a transgender employee in Connecticut, which was thrown out by the court: Connecticut Law Tribune: Transgender Workers Struggle With Bias Claims The Court's reasoning demonstrates the difficulty of obtaining redress from the courts for transgender clients. Interestingly, the court specifically held that discrimination based on gender identity is sex stereotyping that violates both Title VII and Connecticut law. That is quite startling. However, the Court also found that the plaintiff Morales, an openly transgender woman, did not submit any evidence that her firing was based on her gender identity, as opposed to the company's contention that it fired her for absenteeism. In addition, it held that her sexual harassment hostile work environment claim failed because because she submitted no evidence that the harassment was connected to her gender identity or expression. You can find the text of the opinion here.
I think Jillian is right that the important part about this case is not that this plaintiff lost based on the evidence, but that the court apparently agrees that transgender discrimination is covered by Title VII.
The more court decisions I read on this issue, the less controversial this proposition seems to me and perhaps relatedly I am less surprised when courts so rule. Nevertheless, there will have to be more decisions recognizing transgender claims under Title VII before this matter is closed.
That being said, I would not object to any extent to the new Congress making the point moot by adding LGBT protection expressly to Title VII (we've actually become an international outlier in this area among the developed world).