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This is not legal advice, which can only be given by an attorney admitted to practice law in your jurisdiction after hearing all of the facts and circumstances in a particular case.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Trans Law Symposium 2015

This year's Trans Law Symposium will be held in Chicago on Friday, August 7, sponsored by Jenner & Block. The Symposium features leading edge attorneys who are bringing the cases and enacting the laws and policies that make a difference for the trans community.
The conference organizers expressed thanks and appreciation to the National LGBT Bar Association, which so generously hosted the Trans Law Institute in previous years. This event will be a stand-alone event, and is not affiliated with the Association.

The keynote speaker is M. Dru Levasseur, Transgender Rights Project National Director for Lambda Legal, pictured above.

You may register for the event by clicking here.

The schedule for the event is as follows:

8:30-9:00 Coffee and networking
9:00-9:15 Welcome
9:15-10:15 Trans Health Care Panel
10:15-11:15 State Legislative Panel
11:15-11:30 Break
11:30-12:30 Employment Law Panel
12:30-2:00 Lunch and networking
2:00-3:00 Skill Sharing Session
3:00-4:00 Violence and Detention Panel
4:00-4:15 Break
4:15-4:45 Keynote: Dru Levasseur, Lambda Legal Transgender Rights Project National Director
4:45-5:00 Conclusion
Happy Hour and Networking at Local Watering Hole

The Trans Law Symposium Planning Committee is composed of the following members:

Co-Chairs: Dr. Jillian T. Weiss (Ramapo College), Ashe McGovern (New York Legal Assistance Group), Alison Gill (Human Rights Campaign)

Members: Seth Marnin (Anti-Defamation League), Matt Wood (Transgender Law Center), Sasha Buchert (Transgender Law Center), Ez Cukor (NYC Comm. on Human Rights), Demoya Gordon (Lambda Legal), Alex Chen (HLS)."

For further questions or inquiries, you may contact Jillian Weiss, PO Box 642, Tuxedo Park, NY 10987, tel: (845) 709-3237, email:

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Funeral Home Can't Bury EEOC Transgender Firing Suit

The EEOC defeated a motion to dismiss in EEOC v. RG & GR Harris Funeral Home, one of its first suits on behalf of trans employees brought last September. But the judge refused to recognize discrimination based on trans status, which is out of step with the EEOC's Macy decision.  Here is a brief summary of the decision from Law 360:

Law360, New York (April 22, 2015, 4:05 PM ET) -- A funeral home company must face one of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s first sex-discrimination cases over a transgender employee’s firing, but not because transgender status alone brings special legal protection, a Michigan federal judge ruled Tuesday.

U.S. District Judge Sean F. Cox refused to dismiss the EEOC’s complaint, finding the agency adequately alleged that RG & GR Harris Funeral Home Inc. engaged in illegal stereotyping when it fired funeral director and embalmer Amiee Stephens, a transgender woman. But the judge agreed with the company that transgender persons are not a protected group under Title VII, finding instead that transgender employees are “just like anyone else” in their right to sue employers over sex stereotypes.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Lakeland Eye Clinic will Pay $150,000 to Resolve Transgender / Sex Discrimination Lawsuit

From the EEOC Press Room, discussing the case on behalf of our client, Brandi Branson:

Lakeland Eye Clinic will Pay $150,000 to Resolve Transgender / Sex Discrimination Lawsuit

Clinic Agrees to Implement New Gender Identity Anti-Discrimination Policy

TAMPA, Fla. - Lakeland Eye Clinic, a Lakeland, Fla.-based organization of health care professionals, will pay $150,000 to settle one of the first two lawsuits ever filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) alleging sex discrimination against a transgender individual, the agency announced today.  Lakeland additionally agreed to implement a new gender discrimination policy and to provide training to its management and employees regarding transgender/gender stereotype discrimination. The settlement was approved by the U.S. District Court in Tampa late Thursday, April 9, 2015.

"This historic settlement is significant," said David Lopez, EEOC General Counsel.  "It not only is one of the first two lawsuits ever filed by the Commission alleging sex discrimination against a transgender individual, but it also solidifies the EEOC's commitment to enforcing the rights of transgender employees secured by Title VII."

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

U.S. Justice Department Sues Oklahoma University Over Transgender Professor

This is an article in the New York Times via Reuters regarding the U.S. Justice Department suit against Southeastern Oklahoma State University for alleged discrimination against my client, Dr Rachel Tudor.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

DOJ and EEOC sign memorandum re state and local government employers

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the U.S. Department of Justice's (DOJ) Civil Rights Division yesterday signed a new Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to further the goals of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 in prohibiting employment discrimination in the state and local government sector.  The signing ceremony took place on Monday, March 2, at DOJ's headquarters in Washington, D.C., and included remarks from Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta of the Civil Rights Division and EEOC Chair Jenny Yang.
EEOC and DOJ share enforcement authority for public sector employers under Title VII.  The EEOC receives, investigates and mediates charges of discrimination against public employers.  Where the EEOC finds reasonable cause to believe an unlawful employment practice has occurred, the agency works with the employer to negotiate a mutually agreeable resolution to the charge.  If conciliation of a charge fails, the EEOC refers the charge and its investigative file to DOJ, which has sole authority within the federal government to file a lawsuit against public employers under Title VII.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

North Carolina federal court rules trans employee covered by Title VII

The United States District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina has ruled that a trans employee is covered by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  In Lewis v. High Point Regional Health System, the Court rejected the employer's argument that the lawsuit was barred by previous cases holding there is no cause of action under Title VII for discrimination based on sexual orientation. The Court recognized that sexual orientation is different from gender identity. 

The Court recognized that the EEOC’s amicus brief raised a question of whether plaintiff’s complaint fit within a gender-stereotyping framework. Because this issue was not raised in the defendant’s motion to dismiss, the Court declined to address it.  The Court did not cite to any of the usual cases involving trans discrimination, such as Smith v. Salem or Glenn v. Brumby. 

Ultimately, the Court dismissed the claim because the employee did not provide admissible information showing intentional discrimination.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Title VII allows 300k:1 ratio of punitive damages, says 9th Circuit

Normally, courts are not allowed to, and often reduce, large punitive damage awards that are much larger than the amount of compensatory damages.  Punitive damages refer to extra damages given because of a defendant's malicious intent, and it is dependent on the financial wealth of the defendant. In addition, in Title VII employment discrimination cases, there are caps on punitive damages, between $50,000 and $300,000, depending on the size of the employer. However, in a recent Title VII case in the Ninth Circuit, Arizona v. ASARCO, the Court specifically permitted $300,000 in punitive damages, despite the compensatory damages being only $1.