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Protections for transgender people may be in jeopardy

Transgender workers in the District of Columbia are protected from employment discrimination, but workers in other states and cities, such as Texas and Atlanta, may be vulnerable. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission still considers discrimination against transgender people to be illegal under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act that forbids sex-based discrimination. However, its position might shift.

Establishing rights for transgender people has been a long and complex legal process. In January 2015, the Department of Education said that schools had to treat students as they wished based on their gender identity. This was reinforced by the DOE and the Department of Justice in 2016 when the departments said that schools must allow students to use facilities based on their gender identity or they would not receive Title IX funding.

After 12 states sued, on Aug. 21, 2016, a court granted a preliminary injunction that prohibited putting the guideline into effect. The government argued that the injunction should not apply in states that did not file the lawsuit. However, the Trump administration withdrew this on Feb. 10. This was followed by a letter from the DOE and the DOJ that rescinded the earlier decision of those departments. On March 6, 2017, the U.S. Supreme Court sent a case on this issue back to the lower court.

People who believe they are facing discrimination at work may want to speak to an attorney about their rights even if they want to try to resolve the situation in the workplace first. An individual who understands their rights may be better equipped to negotiate the situation at work. Transgender employees in particular may wonder what their rights are and what protections might be available to them. If an individual's workplace does not resolve a discrimination issue, the EEOC may file a lawsuit.

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