February 5, 2023

Volume XIII, Number 36

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February 03, 2023

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February 02, 2023

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Transgender Discrimination Claims Continue to Evolve; Employers’ Should Take Note

On October 23, 2021, the Northern District of Illinois partially denied a motion to dismiss a transgender female police officer’s lawsuit, filed under federal civil rights law 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and 740 ILCS 23/5(a) of the Illinois Civil Rights Act.

In Arriaga v. Dart, No. 20 C 4498, 2021 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 204467, (N.D. Ill. Oct. 23, 2021), Selene Danielle Arriaga, a transgender female police officer, filed suit after her employer disclosed her transgender status and private medical information and because her employer allegedly failed to protect her from harassment and discrimination based on her transgender status.  In declining to dismiss the lawsuit, the judge cited U.S. Supreme Court case law holding that in some circumstances, a failure by municipal employers to train public employees on workplace violations for which the employer is on notice, may be tantamount to an official policy condoning the violations.  Connick v. Thompson, 563 U.S. 51, 1 (2011).

The Arriaga holding suggests claims for discrimination against transgender individuals under federal and state civil rights laws may be viable in the state and local government workplace.  Recent decisions similar to Arriaga not only address the standards for bringing discrimination claims based on transgender status, but also provide insight as to employer acts or omissions that can prevent or trigger such claims.

Federal and state laws recognizing discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation in the workplace are ever-changing in their application and interpretation. To stay prepared for these changes, employers should regularly evaluate what policies and procedures they have in place to ensure they remain in compliance with the laws and create inclusive work environments.

Jackson Lewis P.C. © 2023National Law Review, Volume XI, Number 321

About this Author

MaryAnne Quill St. Louis Missouri Associate Attorney Employment Labor Jackson Lewis PC Law Firm

MaryAnne Quill is an associate in the St. Louis, Missouri, office of Jackson Lewis P.C.

Prior to her employment at Jackson Lewis, MaryAnne represented employees in various workplace matters, including litigation of discrimination and wage and hour claims. MaryAnne has successfully represented clients in both state and federal courts, including jury and bench trials. In 2021, MaryAnne helped obtain her client a favorable verdict in a wage and hour jury. She uses this unique perspective and understanding to anticipate risks...

Adam D. Hirtz Principal Office Litigation Manager St. Louis Jackson Lewis PC Law Firm
Principal and Office Litigation Manager

Adam D. Hirtz is a principal and the office litigation manager in the St. Louis, Missouri, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. He has more than 20 years of experience as a trial attorney representing businesses in employment litigation in both state and federal courts throughout the country. He also acts as a mediator, including regularly mediating cases for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

Adam has handled scores of employment litigation cases to enforce non-compete agreements and to prevent the dissemination...