Department of Labor Issues Guidance to Protect Trans Workers

Following an announcement from Secretary of Labor Tom Perez in June that the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) would be updating its nondiscrimination guidance, DOL on August 19 issued that guidance to explicitly classify discrimination based on gender identity and transgender status as sex discrimination.

“Inclusiveness isn’t just good for workers; it’s smart for business,” said Patricia Shui, director of the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs at DOL, in a blog post announcing the guidance. “When employees can work without fear, when they can comfortably bring their whole selves to the job, companies benefit from the diverse perspectives and enthusiasm those workers bring to the job.”

The announcement follows executive action taken by President Obama last month barring discrimination against transgender federal employees and LGBT employees of federal contractors – a move lauded by civil and human rights groups for its exclusion of a broad religious exemption that is currently included in the Employment Non-Discrimination Act passed by the Senate last November.

The guidance also comes more than two years after the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, in the case of a transgender woman named Mia Macy, ruled that discrimination based on gender identity is a violation of the Civil Rights Act’s prohibition on sex discrimination.

Read DOL’s full guidance here.