Gender Identity Discrimination
The threat of gender identity discrimination has played a significant role in preventing LGBTQ+ persons from embracing their true identities in the workplace. Sexual orientation and gender identity were not protected under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 until very recently.
In a historic ruling in June 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court held that workplace discrimination based on a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity is a form of sex discrimination, and thus, illegal. Gender identity discrimination is now prohibited by federal law. The unfortunate reality is this law does not prevent transgender persons from being mistreated in their workplace.
Herrmann & Murphy are compassionate attorneys with employment law expertise in North Carolina and South Carolina. We fight to obtain justice for LGBTQ+ and gender nonconforming employees who have experienced gender identity discrimination at work. To learn more about possible legal remedies which may be available to you, contact our law firm today.
What is Gender Identity Discrimination?
Individuals who are transgender may face unnecessary barriers, ranging from a lack of empathy and understanding to being feared or stigmatized by their peers. Transgender discrimination in the workplace is the result of illegal harassment or making an adverse employment decision solely because of a person’s gender identity. An adverse employment action refers to firing, demoting or refusing to hire a person simply because they are transgender.
Is Transgender Workplace Discrimination Illegal in North Carolina & South Carolina?
Federal and state law in North Carolina and South Carolina prohibit employment discrimination on the basis of sex, age, race, ethnicity, religion, disability, veteran status, and pregnancy.
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in June 2020 to include gender identity discrimination as a form of sex discrimination. This ruling was the first to protect transgender employees under federal law. Federal employment anti-discrimination laws apply to all government employers and businesses with 15 or more employees.
The same logic would extend this protection to North Carolina state law, which closely follows Title VII’s protected categories and caselaw interpreting Title VII. When North Carolina repealed HB2 it expressly deleted the word “biological” from in front of “sex” in its own anti-discrimination provision, thereby providing another legal basis to conclude that North Carolina law now prohibits discrimination based on gender identity.
Filing an LGBT Discrimination Claim in North Carolina & South Carolina
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 outlines employment protections for government employees, as well as individuals in North Carolina and South Carolina who work for a company with 15 or more employees. State and/or local laws may also apply.
This law requires the victim to file a Charge of Discrimination with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission within 180 days in North Carolina. In South Carolina, discrimination victims typically have 300 days to bring a claim to the EEOC. For claims of sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination, however, it is best to bring a claim within 180 days in order to avoid a fight over whether South Carolina state law also prohibits this type of discrimination.
If you believe you have been discriminated against as a result of your gender identity, reach out to our team of employment discrimination attorneys in North Carolina and South Carolina.
LGBTQ+ and Transgender Discrimination FAQs
How much time do I have to file a lawsuit for gender identity discrimination in North Carolina or South Carolina?
A claim must be filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) within 180 days of a discriminatory act. If time allows, and it has not been more than five months since the adverse action took place, we strongly recommend reaching out to an employment rights attorney before going to the EEOC.
In the state of South Carolina, employees have up to 300 days to file a discrimination claim, as per the South Carolina Human Affairs Law, but it is best to bring the claim within 180 days if there is any argument that South Carolina law does not also prohibit that type of discrimination.
You may choose to consult with an attorney at any time to discuss your options and potential legal remedies — particularly if you are worried about the possibility of being retaliated against for reporting any concerns to your employer or to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
If your employer has an anti-harassment and discrimination policy, you should also follow the specific rules in that policy for how, when, and to whom you are required to report harassment. The law sometimes provides a defense to employers if the harassment victim does not follow the exact procedures outlined in the handbook for reporting harassment.
Laws and interpretations of anti-discrimination policies are constantly changing. In certain settings, employers may also attempt to use their religious affiliation to justify discriminatory behavior towards the LGBTQ+ community.
For the above reasons and more, it is critical to select an attorney specializing in transgender discrimination.
Many different actions and behaviors can be considered discriminatory. This is a legal term which refers to injustices far beyond simple teasing and genuine misunderstandings.
Below are several possible examples of gender identity discrimination:
- An employee is fired shortly after announcing their plans to transition.
- Management will not allow an employee to use the restroom which conforms to their gender identity.
- Coworkers will only refer to a trans employee by their deadname.
- A trans employee is being threatened or intimidated by their supervisor.
- Insensitive jokes, slurs and sexual remarks are considered the norm in a workplace culture.
Speak to a Gender Identity Discrimination Attorney
The legal team of Herrmann & Murphy fights for the equal treatment of LGBTQ+ and trans employees in North Carolina and South Carolina. To schedule a confidential consultation, submit an online form, call our Charlotte office in North Carolina at (704) 940-6399 or call our Greenville office in South Carolina at (864) 516-7526.