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Ruling protects transgender workers from hiring discrimination

California employers cannot engage in workplace discrimination. This includes hiring discrimination. In other words, employers cannot unlawfully discriminate against a person when making hiring decisions. Unlawful discrimination includes discrimination based on age, race, sexual orientation and marital status.

These laws are meant to help protect employees from employers who would potentially not hire them for a position they are qualified for just because of one of these factors. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is responsible for interpreting and enforcing employment law in the United States. Therefore, the EEOC controls the rules for what qualifies as discrimination across the country.

A new EEOC ruling has just expanded the definition of workplace discrimination to protect even more employees. Under a new EEOC ruling employers may not discriminate against transgender people in the workplace, including in hiring decisions.

This ruling comes from the case of one California woman. She applied for a job with the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. She originally applied for the job as a man and was told that she qualified for the position.

Then, the woman informed ATF that she was in the process of changing her gender from male to female. Afterward, she was told that there was no longer funding for the position and that she would not be hired.

The woman later learned another person was hired for the exact same position. She was told that hiring discrimination laws did not protect transgender people after she filed a complaint with ATF.

While this woman's case is still unresolved, it is now clear under the new EEOC ruling that the hiring discrimination rules apply to her and to all transgender people.

Source: San Diego Union-Tribune, "A major ruling in gender identity hiring case," Sam Hananel, April 25, 2012

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