North Carolina got itself a bit of attention recently when it enacted House Bill 2, which mandates that public restrooms be limited for use based on the individual’s “biological sex.” The effect of this bill was to take away from transgender citizens their ability to choose, based on their individual gender identities, which restroom they will use. There was some fairly prompt backlash. Bruce Springsteen cancelled a Greensboro concert in protest. The NBA is considering relocating its 2017 All-Star Game from Charlotte.
Relevant to the workplace, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has been pursuing LGBT cases since long before the Boss or the Association ever heard of HB2. The EEOC’s position is that it “interprets and enforces Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964’s prohibition of sex discrimination as forbidding any employment discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation. These protections apply regardless of any contrary state or local laws.” While Title VII does not explicitly prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, the EEOC says that it will pursue adverse employment decisions that are the result of “gender stereotyping.” Consider these actions brought by EEOC:
- EEOC sued a Maryland company for not taking action to prevent harassment of a lesbian employee.
- EEOC sued a Michigan funeral home for termination of a transgender funeral director.
- EEOC settled a case with a Minnesota company that refused to permit a transgender employee to use the restroom of her choosing after she began presenting as a woman.
- EEOC secured a six-figure verdict in a Title VII case alleging that the male supervisor of an all-male construction crew harassed one of his subordinates.
North Carolina is not alone here. Mississippi recently passed a similar “religious liberty” bill that was viewed by many as anti-LGBT. Like Springsteen, rocker Bryan Adams cancelled a show in Biloxi in protest. Anything he does, he does it for us.