A Step in the Right Direction

Again, not California, but this case has the power to help reconsider federal discrimination laws.

Essentially a job applicant, while interviewing as a man, was offered a position with the Library of Congress as a Terrorism Research Analyst. Once the applicant disclosed that she was undertaking steps to change gender and would be changing her name and presenting herself as a woman, the job offer was revoked due to her not being a “good fit” for the organization. The applicant, Diane Schroer, after exhausting her administrative remedies, sued under Title VII.

From SHRM:

The court denied the agency’s first motion to dismiss, asking the parties to develop the scientific theories behind sexual orientation and gender dysphoria. Schroer’s expert described “sex” as a concept incorporating sex at birth, hormonal sex, internal and external morphological sex, hypothalamic sex and gender identity. The agency’s expert said “sex” means only a person’s chromosomal makeup.

The agency then moved to dismiss again, stating that “sex” is not synonymous with gender identity, and so discrimination against transsexuals is not discrimination because of sex. In response, Schroer amended her complaint to add the sex stereotyping theory of Price Waterhouse v. Hopkins, 490 U.S. 228 (1989), which allowed a discrimination claim by a woman who was perceived by her employer as too “macho.”

Schroer alleged that her employment offer was rescinded based on Preece’s reaction to the photograph of Schroer in women’s clothing—that she looked like a man in women’s clothing instead of like a woman. She also claimed that Preece believed that her appearance would undermine her credibility as a terrorism expert.

The court ruled that Schroer could present a sex stereotyping theory to support her Title VII claim. “It is well-established that, as a legal concept, ‘sex’ as used in Title VII refers to much more than which chromosomes a person has,” the court noted, adding that “Title VII’s reference to ‘sex’ encompasses both the biological differences between men and women, and gender discrimination, that is, discrimination based on a failure to conform to stereotypical gender norms.”

An excellent legal discussion regarding this case can be found here
and here. [via Lawmemo.com]

While this may not change how Title VII views transsexuals in terms of discrimination, it is, as stated above, a real step in the right direction.