January 5, 2010

Policy Marks First Time Transgender Individuals Are Explicitly Protected In Federal Employment

CONTACT: (202) 675-2312 or media@dcaclu.org
WASHINGTON – Beginning in 2010, the Obama administration, through the Office of Personnel Management, has started to list gender identity among the classes protected by federal Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) policies. By including gender identity as a protected class, the federal government is stating its commitment to protecting transgender employees and has taken a significant step toward ending employment discrimination of LGBT people in the federal workforce.
Although a long-standing federal law prohibits any federal employment decisions that are not based on merit and another law prohibits sex discrimination, the new EEO policy marks the first time that gender identity discrimination has been explicitly banned from the federal workplace. The policy is now on the federal government’s jobs Web site as a link from more than 20,000 current federal job listings. The American Civil Liberties Union praised the Obama administration for initiating the change in EEO policy and urged Congress to continue to work for further protections for LGBT Americans.
“This new policy is a very significant development,” said Christopher Anders, ACLU Senior Legislative Counsel. “The inclusion of gender identity in federal EEO policies is a very clear statement that the federal government will not discriminate based on gender identity. The Obama administration is demonstrating a strong commitment to an effective workforce by making clear that the federal government will not discriminate against transgender employees.”
The new EEO policy protects federal employees and applicants for federal employment, but federal legislation is still needed to protect millions of LGBT employees working for businesses and state and local governments. The House and Senate currently have versions of the Employee Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) pending. ENDA, if passed, would be the first-ever federal ban on employment discrimination of LBGT Americans in the workplace.
“Employment discrimination can have a devastating effect on transgender Americans and the families they support,” said Anders. “With its new policy, the federal government is setting a good example for all employers. Although many state governments and businesses already provide workplace protections for transgender employees, explicit protection of transgender federal employees will likely be a catalyst for many more states and businesses to apply the federal policy. With this new policy and ENDA pending in both the House and Senate, we have an unprecedented opportunity to protect the rights of all Americans at work. When Congress returns later this month, both houses should make passing ENDA a priority.”
A copy of an ACLU report, Working in the Shadows: Ending Employment Discrimination for LGBT Americans, is available at: www.aclu.org/lgbt/discrim/31836pub20070917.html

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