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EEOC Expanding Title VII protections to Gender Identity

Without legislation from Congress the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has decided on its own to interpret protections against “sex” discriminations to include Gender Identification. It has recently restated its position publicly which is a concern. Does this mean stronger enforcement is around the corner?

The EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws that make it illegal to discriminate in employment against a job applicant, employee, or former employee because of the person’s race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information.

Title VII applies to all private employers who have 15 or more employees.

The Commission came out with an alert reiterating its position which states “EEOC interprets and enforces Title VII’s prohibition of sex discrimination as forbidding any employment discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation.  These protections apply regardless of any contrary state or local laws.”

The issue is whether Congress intended in Title VII legislation to include Gender Identification as a protected right from “sex” discrimination.

Although many of our clients are protected with the “Ministerial Exception” in hiring and firing -this development is critical. Many churches make non-ministerial hires and this will need to be watched carefully as it makes its way through the courts.

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