Gender Identity Discrimination Lawyers
Gender identity discrimination refers to discrimination on the basis of a person’s self-identification as a particular gender, as well as discrimination on the basis of another’s interpretation of a person’s gender. While gender identity discrimination can take many forms, the most common instances of gender identity discrimination include:
- Discrimination against a person who was born male but self-identifies as female;
- Discrimination against a person who was born female but self-identifies as male;
- Discrimination against someone who was born male and self-identifies as a male, but is perceived by others as effeminate;
- Discrimination against someone who was born female and self-identifies as female, but is perceived by others as masculine.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects employees from discrimination in the workplace on the basis of sex. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency responsible for enforcing Title VII prohibitions, recently held that complaints of discrimination on the basis of gender identity, change of sex, and/or transgender status are cognizable under Title VII as sex discrimination claims. Title VII applies to employers who employ “fifteen or more employees for each working day in each of twenty or more calendar weeks in the current or preceding calendar year.”
In addition, the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978 (CSRA) provides protections against gender identity discrimination for federal government applicants and employees. The CSRA prohibits discrimination in personnel actions based on conduct which does not adversely affect the performance of the applicant or employee, which can include transgender status.
There are currently no state-wide laws specifically banning gender identity discrimination in employment in Pennsylvania. However, as with Title VII cases, discrimination based on gender identity may fall under sex discrimination prohibited by the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act (PHRA). The PHRA provides protections to those whose employers have four or more employees within the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
Additionally, there is an executive order currently in place in Pennsylvania that specifically prohibits discrimination against Pennsylvania state employees on the basis of gender identity.
While Pennsylvania does not currently have a state-wide ban on gender identity discrimination, the following communities throughout Pennsylvania have enacted local ordinances that prohibit gender identity discrimination in employment:
- Abington Township
- Allegheny County
- Allentown City
- Bethlehem City
- Bristol City
- Cheltenham Township
- Conshohocken Borough
- Downingtown Borough
- Doylestown Borough
- East Norrington Township
- Easton City
- Erie County
- Harrisburg City
- Haverford Township
- Jenkintown Borough
- Lancaster City
- Lansdowne Borough
- Lower Merion Township
- New Hope Borough
- Newtown Borough
- Philadelphia City
- Pittston City
- Pittsburgh City
- Reading City
- Scranton City
- Springfield Township
- State College Borough
- Susquehanna Township
- Swarthmore Borough
- Upper Merion Township
- West Chester Borough
- Whitemarsh Township
- York City
Under the above-mentioned laws and ordinances, an employer may not discriminate against an employee on the basis of sex or gender identity in any material way. Protections against such unlawful practices include discrimination in terms of:
- Compensation, including benefits plans
- Job recruiting
In addition to the protections mentioned above, an employer may not retaliate against an employee for reporting discriminatory conduct or for participating in an investigation into discriminatory conduct. While the type of retaliatory conduct will differ in each case, examples of common types of retaliation include:
- Denial of promotion
- Decrease in bonuses or other forms of compensation/benefits
- Creation of a hostile work environment
- Unwarranted negative performance evaluations
Internal reporting procedures
Your employer may have policies regarding sex or gender identity discrimination in its handbook. These policies can include reporting requirements and may require you to follow a certain procedure for raising and documenting issues of discrimination within your workplace. You should follow these procedures and document your actions in writing. It is most likely unnecessary to involve a discrimination attorney in your case at this point. However, you may choose to do so if you are facing resistance to filing your complaint. Failure to follow your employer’s internal procedures may lead to a denial of damages, so it is important to make sure you have taken advantage of these internal processes if you feel that you have been the victim of sex or gender identity discrimination.
Filing a charge of discrimination
If following your employer’s internal procedures for reporting and remedying workplace discrimination has not worked, it may be time to consider taking legal action. If you wish to file a charge of discrimination based on one of the local ordinances listed above, you will need to follow the procedures set forth by that particular county, city or township’s human relations commission. If you need help figuring out which agency to contact, or you require assistance filing a charge of discrimination in any particular region, contact the attorneys at KM&A. We can help you navigate the process.
Before filing a sex discrimination lawsuit under either Title VII or the PHRA, you are required to file a charge of discrimination with either the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission (PHRC). The charge of discrimination will lay out the conduct you believe constitutes discriminatory behavior and will allow the agency to investigate your claims. This charge must be filed within 180 days of the alleged discriminatory conduct. The agency will investigate your claim and will consider whether to attempt to mediate a solution or file a lawsuit against your employer on your behalf.
While it is possible to take this initial step without the assistance of an attorney, complying with agency procedures can be confusing and frustrating for those without prior experience. If you require assistance with your discrimination charge, we recommend that you speak with one of the lawyers at KM&A. Our attorneys have experience navigating the agency landscape and can help ensure you are following the proper procedures and do not miss any deadlines.
Filing a lawsuit
If, six months after your filing with the EEOC or PHRC, the agency has not been able to mediate a satisfactory outcome and has not filed a lawsuit against your employer, you can request a right to sue letter allowing you to personally file a lawsuit against your employer in court. While litigation can be expensive and time-consuming, a successful discrimination lawsuit can lead to a variety of remedies, including back pay, wages and benefits lost as a result of the discrimination, reinstatement, front pay, and attorney’s fees.
Why hire an attorney?
Sometimes, an employment discrimination attorney is capable of obtaining an outcome that you would not otherwise be able to achieve. Having an employment discrimination attorney involved in the case may prompt an employer to change its policies and/or behavior without the need to file a formal complaint. An experienced gender identity discrimination attorney who is used to investigating workplace discrimination may be able to find additional supporting evidence for your claim.
Additionally, an employment discrimination attorney will make sure that you do not miss any filing deadlines. It is important to file your claims with the appropriate offices within a certain time frame, and an experienced gender identity discrimination attorney is used to meeting those deadlines. If your case progresses to a lawsuit, having an attorney on your side is crucial.
Kraemer, Manes & Associates LLC “KM&A” is a law firm serving all of Pennsylvania with our principal offices in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. Call KM&A in western Pennsylvania at 412-626-5626 or in eastern Pennsylvania at 215-618-9185. KM&A can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.