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A Fairer Federal Workplace For Transgender Employees

A new EEO policy marks the first time that gender identity discrimination has been explicitly banned from the federal workplace.
Ian S. Thompson,
Senior Legislative Advocate,
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January 6, 2010

Thinking about applying for one of the more than 20,000 current job openings with the federal government? Is workplace fairness and equality important to you? Boy do I have some good news for you!

Beginning this month, the Obama administration, through the Office of Personnel Management (sort of the HR department of the federal government), has started to list gender identity among the classes protected by federal Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) policies. While 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.

Here’s the actual sentence that can be found with every federal job opening –

The United States Government does not discriminate in employment on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, political affiliation, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, disability, age, membership in an employee organization, or other non-merit factor.

To now have the federal government explicitly bar employment discrimination on the basis of gender identity is a very positive step toward ensuring fundamental fairness in the federal workplace. Additionally, it provides a shining example to state and local governments, as well as private businesses, that the best way to attract the most talented applicant pool is to create a workplace environment committed to nondiscrimination.

This new development will also hopefully help to provide a necessary boost in efforts in Congress to pass the long-awaited Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA). Currently, it remains legal to fire or refuse to hire someone for being lesbian, gay or bisexual in 29 states, while transgender workers can be denied or refused jobs in 38 states. If passed, ENDA would become the first-ever federal ban on employment discrimination of LGBT people in most workplaces. It’s time has absolutely come. You can watch former ACLU client Diane Schroer describe why it is so important that this legislation be passed by clicking here.

Today is certainly a day worth celebrating, as transgender federal workers (and those who wish to join them) are assured that when it comes to their jobs and employment decisions, they will be judged solely on their merits and qualifications and not on who they are.

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