Thursday, November 14, 2013

Third Circuit Decision in Transgender Discrimination Case - COTW #168

On Wednesday, the Third Circuit issued a non-precedential opinion in Stacy v. LSI Corp. The case is noteworthy because the plaintiff's claims were based on transgender/gender identity discrimination (framed as Title VII sex discrimination, sex and disability (gender identity disorder) discrimination and retaliation under the PHRA (PA's state discrimination statute), and gender identity, sex, and disability discrimination and retaliation under Allentown's discrimination act).

Other than that, you know what's unusual about this decision? The fact that there's really nothing unusual about this decision. The Court simply applies the McDonnell Douglas burden shifting framework to conclude that the employer proffered legitimate non-discriminatory reasons for terminating the employee, and she could not establish pretext. Summary judgment for the employer.

I should note what the Court did not hold. The Court did not specifically address whether transgender/gender identity discrimination is protected by Title VII and the PHRA because the employer conceded that the employee had set forth a prima facie case. Nevertheless, as I've stated previously, I think the writing is on the wall on this issue . . . transgender/gender identity discrimination will be treated as sex discrimination by courts (whether ENDA passes or not).

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