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Jury decides against EEOC in transgender bias case

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A District Court jury decided against the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Friday in a case in which it had charged a rental firm with violating federal law by firing a transgender employee.

The EEOC had filed suit against Plano, Texas-based Rent-A-Center Inc. in July 2016, charging it had fired a transgender employee for its Rantoul, Illinois, store because it disapproved of the employee’s gender transition to female and found a pretext for firing her.

The company said in a statement at the time the lawsuit was filed that the termination was because of Megan Kerr’s unauthorized use of a company truck for personal use. The EEOC had charged the company with violating Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

The jury in District Court in Urbana, Illinois, answered “no” to the question on the jury form of whether Ms. Kerr’s transgender status was a motivating factor in her termination.

Experts have said that the U.S. Supreme Court may rule on whether workplace discrimination because of sexual orientation violates Title VII following a March 7 ruling by the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati in favor of a transgender funeral home worker, in Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes Inc.