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ATF accepts ruling in transgender employment discrimination case, will open investigation

Transgender Rights

By Jacob Combs

Last month, I wrote about a landmark opinion issued by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) stating that employment discrimination on the basis of gender identity violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  The EEOC opinion was the result of a case filed by Mia Macy, who applied for a job with the ATF in California and whose initial job offer was rescinded after she informed the civilian contractor processing her application that she was transitioning from male to female.

Yesterday, MetroWeekly reported that the Department of Justice accepted the EEOC ruling, and that the ATF Office of Equal Opportunity sent Macy a letter that it would be opening an investigation into her claim of gender discrimination.  The ATF had originally stated that claims based upon transgender status were not covered by Title VII, leading to the EEOC decision.

Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, told MetroWeekly that there was still work to be done in response to the EEOC ruling:

“The EEOC needs to make sure all of their own people are trained. The Office of Federal Programs, which does all of the federal government work, needs to make sure that all of the EEO officers throughout the federal government and … [Office of Personnel Management] needs to make sure all of the chief human capital officers] understand this decision.”

Keisling adds that the EEOC may need to issue guidance, as it does in other situations, to clarify the effect of this ruling on private employers — a possibility raised by Freedom to Work founder Tico Almeida previously. The Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, which is in the Department of Labor, she says, “in theory, should be interpreting the existing federal contractor rules [that ban sex discrimination] to include trans people” — a point advanced recently in a report issued by the Williams Institute.

Of course, the best case scenario moving forward would be for a federal court to follow the EEOC’s lead and recognize that discrimination based on transgender status is in fact gender discrimination.  Since the EEOC’s interpretation of civil rights legislation is given a good deal of deference by the courts, that may very well happen sooner rather than later.  In the meantime, the Macy decision will stand as binding precedent on the EEOC, its field offices, and all federal departments and agencies.


  • 1. mia macy  |  May 22, 2012 at 10:04 am

    than you for the support

  • 2. Bob  |  May 22, 2012 at 10:28 am

    Thank You!!!! mia macy,, for standing up,,,, your story is inspirational and helps toward bending that moral arc of justice,,,, thank you

  • 3. Gregory in SLC  |  May 22, 2012 at 11:03 am

    YES! Thank you Mia Macy…very important ruling…AWESOME!!!

  • 4. Eggbert  |  September 16, 2012 at 6:33 pm

    As an employment class action attorney, I tackle cases such as those wherein trans-gender complications are very hard to deal with as companies have the discretion of not hiring one, citing qualities or other acceptable things.

  • 5. Jonathan Delshad  |  October 21, 2012 at 3:51 am

    I also think an open investigation is the best Idea to find out the solution for this case. I would like to Thank you to Mia Macy for standing up and Jacob Combs for sharing such informative storyline.

  • 6. Prop 8 Trial Tracker &raq&hellip  |  December 13, 2012 at 8:28 pm

    […] claims of anti-transgender employment discrimination can be filed as claims of sex discrimination, will open an investigation into the plaintiff’s (in the original EEOC decision) discrimination claims. I wrote about a […]

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