The Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects against discrimination based on sex. Two years later, the first sex reassignment surgery in the United States took place at Johns Hopkins University. (At least two transgender women had previously undergone similar surgeries in Europe.) 56 years after passage of the Civil Rights Act, the American legal tradition recognizes that the terms gender and sex are not interchangeable. Therefore, does the Civil Rights Act’s protections against sex discrimination also apply to discrimination on the basis of gender identity or gender expression. The United States Supreme Court has dealt with this subject in several landmark cases. A New Jersey employment discrimination lawyer can help you if you are being treated unfairly at work because of your gender expression.
Price Waterhouse v. Hopkins: Gender Stereotyping is Sex Discrimination
In the 1980s, Ann Hopkins, a recently divorced mother of three and the holder of a master’s degree in mathematics, was denied promotion to partnership at the accounting firm Price Waterhouse. The male partners told her that she needed a “course in charm school” and said that to be promoted, she would need to wear makeup, choose more traditionally feminine clothing and hairstyles, and behave in a more feminine way. After her second application for promotion was denied, she resigned and filed a lawsuit against her former employer. In 1989, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in her favor, on the grounds that gender stereotyping is a form of sex discrimination. No man would be denied a promotion at work simply for having short hair and speaking in a gruff voice.
R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission: Can a Transgender Person be Fired for Transitioning?
Aimee Stephens was a transgender woman who had identified as female for most of her adult life but continued to present as male because of social pressures, including the fear of losing her job, even though her family and friends knew about her gender identity. She began working for a church-affiliated funeral home in 2007; in 2013, she reached the stage in her transition where she would need to begin living publicly as a woman before she could begin hormone replacement therapy or undergo sex reassignment surgery. Before her two-week annual vacation, she informed her employer that, when she returned, she would follow the dress code for female employees and use the first name Aimee. Her employer notified her by mail during the vacation that her employment was terminated. The case is currently before the U.S. Supreme Court. Aimee Stephens died in May 2020, but it is expected that the Supreme Court will rule on the case in the summer of 2020.
Transgender People are Protected From Sex Discrimination
An employment discrimination lawyer can help you if you have been fired from a job because of your gender expression or because you came out as transgender. Contact McOmber McOmber & Luber in Red Bank, New Jersey to discuss your case.