Monday, April 2, 2012

Eleventh Circuit affirms sex discrimination in transgender termination case

Ford & Harrison LLP
Aisha S. Sanchez
March 28 2012

Executive Summary: The Eleventh Circuit recently held that a governmental entity's termination of a transgender employee based on her non-conformity with gender stereotypes constituted sex discrimination in violation of the 14th Amendment's Equal Protection Clause. See Glenn v. Brumby. Although the facts were limited to a government employee, this decision impacts both public and private employers because it clarifies that while the 14th Amendment and Title VII do not specifically recognize transgender or transsexual individuals as members of their own protected class, the law still affords them workplace protections based on sex and gender if their employers subject them to adverse employment action because their appearance and/or behaviors do not align with gender stereotypes.

Vandy Beth Glenn (formerly Glenn Morrison) was born as a biological male, identified as a female, and was diagnosed in 2005 with the medically recognized mental disorder, Gender Identity Disorder ("GID"). Shortly thereafter, Glenn decided to transition from male to female under medical supervision. Part of this transition required Glenn to live as a female prior to undergoing sex-reassignment surgery.

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