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Connecticut Federal Court Denies Employer’s Motion for Summary Judgment in Transgender Discrimination Suit

Recently, a Connecticut Federal Court ruled that a transgender discrimination claim based on a failure to hire can proceed under both Title VII and Connecticut’s counterpart, the Connecticut Fair Employment Practices Act (“CFEPA”). Notably, during the pendency of the case, Connecticut passed a law prohibiting discrimination on the basis of gender identity.

The Plaintiff alleged that she was nearly hired as an on-call orthopedic surgeon at the Hospital of Central Connecticut, and relied on the impending finalization of her hiring, but that the hospital declined to hire her because she disclosed her identity as a transgender woman who would begin working after transitioning to presenting as female.

The hospital moved for summary judgment on several grounds, including that Title VII (and the CFEPA at the time of the alleged discrimination) does not prohibit employment discrimination on the basis of transgender identity.

The District Court denied summary judgment. In so doing, it read Title VII’s prohibition of discrimination “because of . . . sex” to include transgender discrimination. Examining the plain language of the statute, and in light of prior Supreme Court precedent acknowledging gender-stereotype discrimination as discrimination “because of sex,” Judge Stefan Underhill concluded that discrimination on the basis of transgender identity is cognizable under Title VII.