US: US government sues companies over illegal sacking transgender employees

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

In an historic action Thursday, the federal government brought suits against two companies who have been accused of discriminating against transgender employees.

The lawsuits are the first time that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has brought suit against a company under the Civil Rights Act of 1964, in order to protect the rights of trans employees.

The two suits, brought on behalf of Amiee Stephens and Brandi Branson, argue that both women are owed back pay, reinstatement or front pay, and punitive damages due to discrimination they experienced.

Stephens was allegedly fired from her position as a funeral director/embalmer at RG & GR Harris Funeral Home in Michigan when she told her employer she would be dressing in female business attire.

Branson was working at Lakeland Eye Clinic in Florida when she was harassed and laughed at by employees during her transition and then eventually fired.

Both lawsuits mark a culmination of efforts by the EEOC to enforce the decision they reached in Macy v. Holder in 2012, where a five-person panel ruled that gender identity and sexual orientation were protected under Title VII’s employment discrimination ban.