The court denied the employer's motion to dismiss a Title VII sex discrimination claim in which a transgender plaintiff alleged he was unlawfully denied use of the male bathroom close to his work station, and then was fired for attendance issues resulting from having to go to a bathroom farther away. Denying the employer's motion to dismiss, the court noted that the EEOC and courts have held that Title VII's sex discrimination provision prohibits workplace discrimination based on gender identity, and that the claim was described with sufficient clarity in the EEOC charge to render it exhausted.
The plaintiff, a corrections officer, alleged the Department of Corrections violated Title VII's prohibition on sex discrimination based on gender identity when supervisors tolerated harassment of him and breached his confidentiality by informing prison inmates of his transition.
Justice Scalia noted in the majority opinion that, while same-sex harassment was "assuredly not the principal evil Congress was concerned with when it enacted Title VII . .statutory prohibitions often go beyond the principal evil [they were passed to combat] to cover reasonably comparable evils, and it is ultimately the provisions of our laws rather than the principal concerns of our legislators by which we are governed.
The Supreme Court held that same-sex harassment is sex discrimination under Title VII. The court reasoned that the "narrow view" of the term "sex" in prior case law denying Title VII protection to transgender employees was "eviscerated" by ., 214 F.3d 213 (1st Cir. Citing Title VII case law, the court concluded that a transgender plaintiff, who was biologically male, stated a claim of sex discrimination under the Equal Credit Opportunity Act by alleging that he was denied a loan application because he was dressed in traditionally female attire.
After the plaintiff notified the employer that she was under a doctor's care for gender dysphoria and would be undergoing gender transition, the employer withdrew the offer, explaining that the plaintiff would not be a "good fit." The court stated that since the employer refused to hire the plaintiff because she planned to change her anatomical sex by undergoing sex reassignment surgery, the employer's decision was literally discrimination "because of ... A finder of fact might reasonably conclude that the employer's statement that the job offer was rescinded because she had "misrepresented" herself as female reflected animus against individuals who do not conform to gender stereotypes.
The plaintiff, a transgender female, was offered a position as a terrorism research analyst before she had changed her name and begun presenting herself as a woman. Denying the employer's motion for summary judgment, the court concluded that the plaintiff's claim was actionable as sex discrimination under Title VII on the theory that she failed to comport with the employer's notions of how a male should look.
Noting that the phrase "on the basis of sex" in Title IX is interpreted in the same manner as similar language in Title VII, the court held that a transgender female student could proceed with a claim that she was sexually harassed "on the basis of sex" in violation of Title IX.
Chief Judge Wood, writing for the majority, first relied on the "comparative method" of analysis, reasoning that "Hively alleges that if she had been a man married to a woman .
"The nature of the discrimination is the same; it may differ in degree but not in kind." The court further concluded that discrimination based on sex stereotypes is subject to heightened scrutiny under the Equal Protection Clause, and government termination of a transgender person for his or her gender nonconformity is unconstitutional sex discrimination.
Denying the county's motion to dismiss or for summary judgment on a Title VII claim brought by a volunteer auxiliary police officer, the court ruled that the officer was an "employee" for Title VII purposes, and that her claim that she was discriminated against "because of her obvious transgendered status" raised a cognizable claim of sex discrimination.
"eviscerated" the "narrow view" of "sex" articulated in earlier Title VII cases, and observed: "An individual's sex includes many components, including chromosomal, anatomical, hormonal, and reproductive elements, some of which could be ambiguous or in conflict within an individual." , 577 F.
The court therefore allowed plaintiff's transgender discrimination claim to proceed under Title VII.
The district court denied the employer's motion to dismiss the case because the employer had argued only that sexual orientation was not covered under Title VII and sexual orientation and gender identity are two distinct concepts.
At the time of her interviews, she was anatomically male, and was undergoing hormone replacement therapy in preparation for sex reassignment surgery in the future.