EEOC DECIDES AGAINST U.S. ARMY IN GENDER IDENTITY DISCRIMINATION CASE
Recently, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission released a landmark ruling that found the U.S. Army guilty of discriminating against a transgender civilian employee. The decision marks the first time that a transgender U.S. military employee received a favorable ruling from the EEOC. The victim of the discrimination, Tamara Lusardi, is a veteran who currently works as a software quality assurance specialist for the U.S Army Aviation and Missile Research. Ms. Lusardi experienced years of being called “sir,” “he,” and “it,” by coworkers. Her superiors failed to combat the discrimination; one of them even used her birth name in front of other workers in order to ridicule her for being transgender. She was prohibited from using the women’s restroom, and only permitted to use a single-stall, gender neutral restroom. On several occasions, the gender neutral restroom was out of order; when she chose to use the women’s restroom, she was reprimanded by a supervisor who told her that she was making her coworkers “uncomfortable.” She was told that she would only be allowed to use the women’s restroom after she underwent gender-reassignment surgery. Last year, the U.S. Office of Special Counsel conducted an investigation into the alleged discrimination and found that Ms. Lusardi had been treated in a way that was “sufficiently frequent, pervasive, and humiliating” to constitute unlawful discriminatory harassment. The report continued, “We acknowledge that while certain employees may object to allowing a transgender individual to use the restroom consistent with his or her gender identity, coworkers (or even supervisors) anxiety or confusion alone cannot justify discriminatory working conditions.” The EEOC affirmed the Office of Special Council’s findings, ruling that the harassment and discriminatory behavior that Ms. Lusardi experienced constituted a hostile working environment that violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. In addition to granting Ms. Lusardi monetary damages, the EEOC ordered the Army to immediately allow her access to the women’s restroom. It also instructed the Army to provide gender identity, sex discrimination, and retaliation training to the staff in her workplace. Transgender discrimination is prohibited by New York City law According to the New York City Human Rights Law (NYCHRL), gender identity discrimination is a form of unlawful gender discrimination. An employer may not discriminate against an employee whose identity, appearance, behavior, or expression does not match that traditionally associated with his or her legally assigned gender at birth. Contact the Akin Law Group for legal help If you have experienced gender identity discrimination in your workplace, contact the Akin Law Group at 866.685.5163 to schedule a free consultation. Our lawyers will listen to the details of your case to determine whether filing a lawsuit is the right choice for you.