Georgia transgender employees have protections
tion language that would quell those fears, I could not support it.”
And as far as a statewide nondiscrimination bill?
“I’m open to having the dialogue also but until there is a bill I can consider, I can’t give an opinion on a hypothetical bill,” she says, adding, “I don’t think it has to be a separate bill.”
Trans discrimination case only employment protection for now
For now, LGBT Georgians have to live with the protections currently on the books, and the case law that’s provided precedent for certain protections.
Vandy Beth Glenn’s lawsuit, Glenn v. Brumby, resulted in added protections for one of the “big three” areas—employment. Glenn was fired from her job with the General Assembly’s Office of Legislative Counsel in 2007 after informing her superiors she was transitioning from male to female. Lambda Legal filed a federal lawsuit on her behalf, which she won in federal district court and which was upheld on appeal by the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals.
Glenn’s case was won based on sex discrimination grounds, which are part of Title VII, which prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex and national origin.
Therefore the case protects all transgender employees in Georgia, whether in the private or public sector, confirms Greg Nevins, senior attorney with Lambda Legal.
Nevins says sexual orientation is a different issue because Glenn’s case didn’t speak to that, but there is a provision in the decision that notes transgender people transgress gender stereotypes and it is illegal to discriminate against them because of that. There’s not much of a leap from that to sexual orientation, because other courts have ruled gays and lesbians by their preferences and attractions defy gender stereotypes.
“So if you draw that link, if transgender people defy gender stereotypes, the same can be said about gay men and lesbians,” Nevins says. “The conduct of gay and lesbian individuals and their essence is transgressing gender stereotypes. Not in the same way as transgender individuals, but in the same vein.”
All it will take is a legitimate case of a Georgia employee being discriminated against due to their sexual orientation for an attorney to take a shot at citing Glenn v. Brumby. The success of such a case would add additional employment protections to Georgia’s LGB community, where the legislative route has failed.
“We’ll have to wait and see for the case and I will be certainly looking for it,” Nevins says.
Meanwhile LGBT legislators and activists will continue to hammer away at making whatever progress can be made at the legislative level.
The community celebrated the defeat of a religious freedom bill for the second year in a row, but the outcome of the session looks decidedly bleaker after taking a peek beyond that bill. Every other bill proposed during the session that had any semblance of being pro-LGBT—be it employment protections, anti-bullying, hate crimes, HIV/AIDS— failed across the board.