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Litigation Tracker: First Circuit

Covers Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island & Puerto Rico

Positive case law has found that discrimination based on a person’s failure to conform to the stereotypes of the sex they were assigned at birth amounts to sex discrimination, which is prohibited under federal law.

  • In a case filed by GLBTQ Advocates & Defenders, Rosa v. Parks W. Bank & Trust Co., the 1st Circuit concluded on June 8, 2000 that a person who presented as female but was born male could claim sex discrimination under the Equal Credit Opportunity Act when a bank denied them a loan application because of the way they were dressed, urging them to change into traditional male attire. The ruling cited Title VII case law.

Outdated case law in the circuit has dismissed arguments that discrimination based on sexual orientation violates federal law.

  • On October 22, 1999 the 1st Circuit ruled in Higgins v. New Balance Athletic Shoe that “Title VII does not proscribe harassment simply because of sexual orientation,” dismissing arguments regarding sex discrimination as unpersuasive.
  • A January 25, 2018 decision in Franchina v. City of Providence chipped away at the Higgins precedent by declaring that the existence of sexual orientation discrimination does not negate a sex discrimination claim under Title VII.

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First Circuit

There is currently no active litigation.
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