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Employee wins $50,000 settlement after facing anti-transgender discrimination

LGBT Legal Cases Transgender Rights

Lambda Legal and the Equal Opportunity Commission (EEOC) reached a $50,000 settlement over an employment discrimination dispute involving an employee, Cori McCreery, who is transgender. McCreery was fired from her job at a grocery store after she announced her intent to begin the process of transitioning:

According to Lambda, McCreery was initially given assurances she’d have job security after she announced she’d transition, but was swiftly fired after being told she was “making other employees uncomfortable” and the company had a “7 million dollar investment to protect.”

The $50,00 amount is the highest anyone can receive for damages under the law.

The decision follows Lambda Legal’s and the EEOC’s previous work on anti-transgender employment discrimination. The EEOC held in the Macy case that anti-transgender discrimination is sex discrimination. At least two more EEOC rulings followed from that.

Lambda Legal notes some of the history behind the recent EEOC cases:

The Macy decision relied heavily upon Lambda Legal’s ground-breaking 2008 victory in the Eleventh Circuit on behalf of Vandy Beth Glenn, a legislative editor who was fired from her job with the Georgia General Assembly office after announcing her intent to transition from male to female at work.

The EEOC, in their press release for the new settlement, said there has been a “steady stream” of court decisions validating their approach:

In addition to the EEOC’s recent decision on sex discrimination, Macy v. Department of Justice, EEOC Appeal No. 0120120821 (April 20, 2012), there has been a steady stream of district court decisions finding that claims of discrimination based on transgender status, also referred to as gender identity, are cognizable under Title VII’s sex discrimination prohibition.

“Employers need to be made aware that their personal myths, fears, and stereotypes about gender identity can subject them to liability if they act upon them in an employment setting,” said Julie Schmid, acting director of the EEOC’s Minneapolis Area Office.

EEOC Commissioner Chai Feldblum said, “Individuals need to be treated on their merits. I am glad that EEOC staff was available to help this hard-working individual.”

McCreery now works at a company that scores 100% on HRC’s Corporate Equality Index.

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