Brief Reflections on the EEOC

Decision in Macy v BATF


Not Earth Shaking (?)

but Important Ramifications


“Imagine the Employee is Fired

Because he Converts from Christianity

to Judaism”


            The EEOC has decided that refusing a position to a person transitioning from one gender to another is sex discrimination under Title VII, at least in the public sector.  Macy mentioned to the selection people at the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms that she was in the process of changing from the feminine gender to the masculine gender, and what had been a “lock” for a job disappeared days after she made this disclosure. 

            Traditionally gender discrimination cases focus on the treatment given to females or males based on their birth gender. The Commission found that “the statute's protections sweep far broader than that, in part because the term 'gender' encompasses not only a person's biological sex but also the cultural and social aspects associated with masculinity and femininity.” 

            Interestingly, the Commission changed its point of view because of court decisions ruling that transgender status could be the basis for gender discrimination.  A federal court case out of the District of Columbia made this analogy: 

Imagine that an employee is fired because she converts from Christianity to Judaism. Imagine too that her employer testifies that he harbors no bias toward either Christians or Jews but only 'converts.' That would be a clear case of discrimination 'because of religion.' No court would take seriously the notion that 'converts' are not covered by [Title VII]. Discrimination 'because of religion' easily encompasses discrimination because of a change of religion

             Although it is unlikely that the average employer would care that someone was changing genders or had done so, but this ruling is likely to encompass private employers also and should be taken seriously.