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Transgender Sex Discrimination Case Decided by the 11th Circuit

In a federal discrimination lawsuit, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit ruled in favor of a transgender woman who was immediately fired from her state job after her employer learned of her intent to transition from male to female.

Vandy Beth Glenn filed her claim after she was fired as a legislative editor for the Georgia General Assembly. The record was replete with evidence of unjust discrimination. Her employer admitted during court depositions that the thought of someone with male sexual organs in women’s clothing was “unsettling,” “unnatural,” and something he does not like to think about. He also claimed that Glenn’s presence at the General Assembly may be considered immoral and inappropriate.

In 2010, a federal district court judge ruled the state illegally discriminated against Glenn and ordered she be reinstated. The 11th Circuit affirmed the judgment of the federal district court ruling;

  • Since Glenn’s claim was based on the Equal Protection Clause, the Court had to determine, under heightened scrutiny, whether her employer succeeded in showing an exceedingly persuasive justification for his discriminatory conduct.
  • The defendant wholly failed to meet this burden, suggesting only on appeal that there might be an issue with restroom use in the workplace, and pointed to a single statement made during a previous deposition to support this.
  • The Court found that not only was the restroom concern speculative, but the defendant could not show he was actually motivated by it at the time of the plaintiff’s termination. The Court also noted that the concern was largely immaterial because the relevant restrooms in Glenn’s office were single-occupancy.

If you believe you have been the victim of discrimination, consult an experienced Georgia employment and labor law attorney who can provide you with the guidance you need.

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