“Mia” Macy applied for a job with the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms and interviewed as a male candidate. A former police detective from Phoenix relocating to San Francisco, Macy was repeatedly told by persons she interviewed with that she would be given the job she applied for. Some time after interviewing, but before being hired, Macy reported to the organization that she was beginning the process of changing from a man to a woman. Shortly thereafter Macy received notice that she would not receive the position because it was allegedly closed due to lack of funds. Later, however, Macy learned that the position was not closed and had been filled by another candidate.
Following the public sector EEO procedures which are different than those in the private sector, Macy alleged sex discrimination and discrimination regarding gender assignment. The allegation under gender assignment was rejected and Macy filed an internal appeal with the EEOC. On April 20, 2011, the EEOC ruled that gender assignment is a “sex” discrimination claim.
What does this mean for Texas businesses? Maybe a lot. Maybe not much. The decision is not binding on Texas or federal courts, but it will be used to suggest that these courts should adopt the position that gender assignment can result in a sex discrimination claim. If a Texas state or federal court adopts the view that it is a claim, it may become the law. I wouldn’t count on it happening any time soon, though. The appeals courts that govern Texas both at a state and federal level have a reputation for being very conservative. If a decision is made at a local level that gender assignment supports a claim for sex discrimination, it will most certainly be appealed and I cannot see any of the Texas appellate courts finding in favor of it.
Regardless of your views on the issue, however, it may be worthwhile to take the decision into consideration in future employment decisions. Gender assignment is not likely to become a viable claim in Texas any time soon, but you would probably prefer to avoid the publicity and legal expense that comes along with being the guinea pig chosen to find out!