In Historic First, Federal Judge Rules Transgender Person Can Pursue Discrimination Claim Under Americans With Disabilities Act

By Adam Polaski • May 19, 2017 • 9:41 am

Last night, May 18, U.S. District Court Judge Joseph Leeson, Jr. out of Pennsylvania ruled that a transgender person’s claim of employment discrimination may proceed under the Americans with Disabilities Act, the federal non-discrimination law that protects Americans from discrimination based on disability status. The case, Blatt v. Cabela’s Retail, Inc. was filed by GLBTQ Advocates & Defenders (GLAD).

The judge recognized gender dysphoria as a medical condition, and his order details that its specific exclusion from the Americans with Disabilities Act (gender dysphoria is one of about a dozen medical conditions exempted from the ADA) is unfair. This is the first case in which a discrimination claim from a transgender person has been permitted to proceed under ADA claims.

The ruling is historic and important, adding to the momentum we’ve seen over the past several years for transgender people in court. It lays a vital foundation for transgender people to pursue broad civil rights protections across many spheres of life, including employment and public accommodations.

Between a ruling like last night’s and the many federal judges that have come to the conclusion that transgender people are protected under federal law based on “sex discrimination” prohibitions in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and Title IX of the Education Amendments, the momentum is clear: Judges are siding with transgender people and coming to the appropriate conclusion on discrimination based on gender identity.

No one should face discrimination because of who they are – as our indispensable legal partners make that argument again and again in the court of law, advocates on the ground must continue to make the same compelling arguments in the court of public opinion. By strengthening public support and building a team of incredible advocates, we can protect more people and ultimately work toward clear, explicit, comprehensive federal protections ensuring that LGBT people are fully protected from discrimination once and for all.

Read the ruling here from Equality Case Files. 

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