Ge­or­gia trans­gen­der em­ploy­ees have pro­tec­tions

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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.

Defining progress

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.

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