Supreme Court Refuses to Hear Transsexual Case

November 8, 2005 ( - The US Supreme Court has refused to hear a case of a Cincinnati police officer who alleges she was demoted because she is a transsexual.

The Associated Press reports that the US 6 th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a jury’s finding that Philecia Barnes was a victim of discrimination, under the 1964 Civil Rights Act. In 1999, at the time she was demoted, she dressed as a man at work, but as a woman when not working, according to the AP. The appellate court said that Barnes, who was born a male, was subjected to an unusual daily evaluation by other sergeants and required to wear a microphone at all times. The city had been ordered to pay her $320,000, and pay another $550,000 in attorney fees.

One of the city attorneys told justices that employers should be protected from discrimination lawsuits based on “transsexual and homosexual characteristics.” The city says the demotion was for professional reasons. Sexual orientation is not covered in the law, but justices were asked to deal with a related issue: sex stereotyping of transsexual workers.

The Supreme Court refused to hear the case, refusing to consider shielding employers from discrimination lawsuits by transsexuals. A 1989 Supreme Court decision made it more difficult for employers to win lawsuits accusing them of sexual stereotyping and other bias. Justice Sandra Day O’Connor wrote a separate opinion in that case that gave guidelines for lower courts to follow. She wrote that victims must show that “an illegitimate criterion (such as sexual stereotyping) was a substantial factor” in the employer’s personnel decision.