Gender Identity Discrimination in the Workplace: Definition, Laws & Cases

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  • 0:04 Gender Identity Discrimination
  • 1:02 Legal Protection
  • 2:15 Court Case Examples
  • 4:04 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Tammy Galloway

Tammy teaches business courses at the post-secondary and secondary level and has a master's of business administration in finance.

In this lesson, we'll define gender identity and explore gender identity discrimination. You'll also learn about laws associated with workplace discrimination and review current United States federal court cases.

Gender Identity Discrimination

Let's say that Mark, a transgender employee, brought a discrimination claim against EFG Corporation for gender identity discrimination, which is employer mistreatment of an employee because of their gender identity. Gender identity refers to a person's mannerisms, appearance, style of dress, and characteristics. This can refer to an identity that differs from the biological sex that they were assigned at birth, and is what's usually referred to when discussing issues within the transgender population.

Mark, born a female, as he developed realized that he identified as a man and began to wear clothes associated with males. As a result, Mark believes that his managers discriminated against him by refusing to promote him on numerous occasions. For the rest of this lesson, we'll explore workplace discrimination based on gender identity, including the federal and state laws that offer protection and relevant discrimination-related court cases.

Legal Protection

Once Mark determined he was being discriminated against, he contacted the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to report EFG's misconduct. The EEOC is a federal agency responsible for oversight and defense of federal civil rights laws in the workplace. When the EEOC representatives met with Mark and reviewed his documentation and interviewed EFG employees, they concluded EFG violated the Civil Rights Act of 1964's Title VII, which strictly prohibits employers from discriminating against employees based on sex, religion, gender, color, or origin. As a result, the EEOC filed a lawsuit against EFG and won a $5 million judgment for Mark.

Afterwards, Mark was curious about gender identity state laws, and based on his research only half of the states in the U.S. have laws on the books that relate to non-discrimination, LGBT youth, health and safety, the ability to correct the name and gender marker on identity documents, adoption, and parenting. In many cases, workplace gender identity discrimination cases are investigated based upon federal law.

Court Case Examples

Mark furthered his research and identified United States federal court cases regarding gender identity discrimination in the workplace. Three in particular stood out:

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