- Bojangles’ Restaurants, a fast-food chain based in North Carolina, has agreed to pay $15,000 to settle claims that it violated federal law when it subjected a transgender employee to harassment based on her gender identity and then fired her in retaliation for reporting the harassment.
- A transgender employee was repeatedly subjected to offensive comments about her appearance and gender identity, according to the complaint. Management insisted that she “behave and groom” in ways that are stereotypically male because she was born male, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) said. Following at least two complaints and continuing harassment, the employee was fired, according to the commission.
- The employer also agreed to, at specific locations, provide annual training to employees, to redistribute its nondiscrimination policies, and to report complaints of harassment based on gender identity or gender expression to EEOC.
While the Trump administration does not agree that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination based on gender identity, the EEOC has continued to pursue claims on that basis. The federal circuit courts of appeals are split on a related issue, and the U.S. Supreme Court recently declined to intervene.
Until either the Supreme Court or Congress steps in, employers are left without much guidance. Generally, however, management-side attorneys are recommending that employers add LGBTQ status to their EEO policies. It's well-settled that gender stereotyping can amount to sex discrimination, and experts warn that the line between stereotyping and straightforward LGBTQ discrimination is a fine one.