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Federal law prohibits transgender discrimination

As some Indiana residents may already know, employees are protected in many ways under the Civil Rights Act. Discrimination due to color, creed or sex is expressly prohibited, according to the federal law. The U.S. attorney general recently confirmed that the law also protects transgender individuals from employment discrimination.

Even though lawmakers who drafted the federal law did not live in an era when transgender issues were as widely discussed as they are in 2014, officials said that protecting transgender individuals from unfair treatment is is consistent with the spirit of the law. According to some authorities, advocates of this position are enthusiastic and believe transgender protection in the workplace may facilitate further movements to protect transgender individuals in other arenas, such as public education and housing. According to a representative of a transgender equality organization, the clarity and strength of the attorney general's interpretation is an indication that the federal government is supportive of such movements.

In 2011, a large survey of transgender individuals found that unemployment in the transgender population is significantly high, which correlates with a troubling poverty rate. Reportedly, 47 percent of transgender individuals indicated they were discharged from jobs or suffered other negative job consequences, and 90 percent claimed that they were sexually harassed in the workplace.

Employees who believe they were terminated from their position on account of gender discrimination may file a lawsuit against their employer. Besides providing counsel and representation for such a civil claim, an attorney may advise these individuals which court, state or federal, is more appropriate for their particular case. Employment law attorneys often have experience with discrimination cases and a thorough understanding of laws such as the Civil Rights Act.

Source: The Washington Times, "DOJ: Transgender people can’t be discriminated against at work", Sandhya Somashekhar , December 18, 2014

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