Tuesday, October 12, 2004

First pro-trans decision in the United States IGLHRC

Human Rights Spanish Network

The Civil Rights Law of 1964 and the Equal Protection Clause of amendment XIV prohibits employment discrimination against transsexuals. The U.S. Third Court of Appeals for the sixth Circuit, which covers Kentucky, Michigan and Ohio , recently defined this. Legal background Federal Courts of Appeals for different circuits are – after the United States Supreme Court – the highest Federal authority regarding federal legal cases. In addition, either federal civil rights laws or Michigan 's civil rights laws include discrimination due to gender identity or expression, which is the one that affects the transgendered community. Likewise, the Civil Rights Law of 1962 is a law that deals with sexual employment discrimination and it is applicable for the State as well as for private employers. Lastly, the Equal Protection Clause of amendment XIV of the US Constitution is used in cases where a group of people has been discriminated by the government. After effects If this decision holds up in future appeals, it could result in the useless efforts by transgendered rights activists that want gender identity to be included in the Employment Non Discrimination Act, which has Federal coverage and is still pending approval. The Civil Rights Law of 1962 gives more protection than ENDA, which demands that an employer have a certain minimum number of employees to be reached under their instructions and that allows employers to use religion as a defense if they are accused of discrimination.

The Smith case: First verdict Jimmie Smith, who was born a male, had a successful job history with the Salem Fire Department in Ohio . He was diagnosed with gender dysphoria and started his transition from male to female gender. After he informed his immediate supervisors about the transition, they met with municipal authorities to discuss a plan that would allow them to fire Smith. The Salem Security Director, who attended that meeting, told Smith about the plan and smith contacted his attorney who in turn talked to the mayor and warned him about the legal ramifications the city would suffer if they continued with the plan. Four days later, the Chief of the fire department suspended Smith because of an alleged violation Smith had committed against the municipality or Fire Department, this accusation was later found to be unfounded. Smith file a suit charging them with “sexual discrimination” in violation of the Civil Rights Law of 1964 and Equal Protection Clause of amendment XIV of the US Constitution. The Municipality requested that the accusation be dismissed and the Federal District Court agreed, Smith appealed to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals and the three-judge panel reversed that decision. The Court held that employment discrimination based on gender stereotypes, meaning, the fact that an employee does not fit gender stereotypes accepted by employers or co-workers, violates the Civil Rights Law of 1964. The Court also explained that since the government of Salem is a municipality and Smith is a public employee, the sexual discrimination that she suffered violated the Equal Protection Clause and that the Municipality had taken measures against Smith when they suspended her after her attorney spoke with the Mayor. This is the first verdict by a Federal Appeals Court that states that transgendered people who have been discriminated against at work can sue their employers because of sexual discrimination on the job. According to this theory, it would also be possible for gay and lesbian employees to sue their employers under the Civil Rights Law protection.


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