Thursday, May 05, 2016

Transgender Bathroom Bills Trigger Strong Responses

Two developments yesterday highlight the reactions to legislative initiatives to ban transgender individuals from using restrooms that match their gender identity.  As reported by the New York Times, the Justice Department yesterday sent a letter (full text) to North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory warning that compliance with North Carolina's recently enacted House Bill 2 places the state in violation of Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, and threatens millions of dollars in federal funding.  The letter says in part:
Access to sex-segregated restrooms and other workplace facilities consistent with gender identity is a term, condition, or privilege of employment. Denying such access to transgender individuals, whose gender identity is different from their gender assigned at birth, while affording it to similarly situated non-transgender employees, violates Title VII.
The Justice Department also told the University of North Carolina that compliance violates Title IX, and told the state Department of Public Safety that it amounts to a violation of the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act.

Meanwhile, in Oxford, Alabama, the City Council voted 3-2 yesterday to rescind the public restroom ordinance that it passed last week.  (See prior posting.) The ordinance had not yet been signed by the mayor and so had not become law. As reported by Alabama Media Group, the ACLU was already planning a legal challenge, and the city attorney had warned that the ordinance as written might violate Title IX. The ordinance was a response to a policy announcement by Target stores that they welcome employees and customers to use restrooms and fitting rooms that correspond to their gender identity.

UPDATE: On May 2, the EEOC issued a Fact Sheet on Bathroom Access Rights for Transgender Employees Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Corporate Counsel reports on the EEOC's action.