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EEOC reaffirms position on gender identity discrimination

Texas residents may have heard that two federal agencies rescinded bathroom guidance related to Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. The Department of Justice and Department of Education both rescinded the guidance on Feb. 22. Title IX prohibits sex discrimination in any educational institution that receiving funding from the federal government.

In January 2015, an opinion found that schools should treat transgender students in accordance with their gender identity when students are treated differently by sex. In May 2016, the DOE and DOJ said that schools should allow students to use bathrooms, locker rooms and showers of their choosing. Failing to do so could have jeopardized their ability to receive federal funding. However, despite this action, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission still believes that discriminating against transgender people in the workplace is illegal.

This is because Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination based on sex. According to the EEOC, gender identity is thought to be covered under this prohibition. It is possible that the EEOC will face pressure to change its position in the future. As of now, the guidance only relates to transgender students. This means that it has no bearing yet on how cases involving discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation may be enforced.

If an employee believes that he or she was discriminated against, it may be worthwhile to talk to an attorney. Employers are generally not allowed to engage in gender discrimination or discrimination based on other protected attributes. Legal counsel may work to show that an employer committed employment violations, and it may show that an employee was retaliated against for complaining about them. If successful, employees may be entitled to compensation and reinstatement to their former positions.

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