TBA Law Blog

Posted by: Brittany Sims on Dec 5, 2014

A largely overlooked case issued by the Tennessee Court of Appeals may have given lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals new protections from discrimination in the state of Tennessee, attorney Keith Dennen writes in a Tennessean opinion piece. In Lisa Howe, et al. v. Bill Haslam, the plaintiff alleged that a 2011 Act of the Tennessee General Assembly that added a definition of “sex” to the Tennessee Human Rights Act and created the Equal Access to Intrastate Commerce Act violated the Equal Protection guarantees of the United States and Tennessee Constitutions. Although the case was dismissed, buried within the appellate opinion, the text says, “the governor submits, ‘transsexual individuals are protected from discrimination on the basis of sex (including discrimination for failure to conform to gender stereotypes) by the THRA [Tennessee Human Rights Act] and Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act.’ ” Though the language only specifically states that transsexual people are protected from discrimination, this statement has the potential to open the door for blanketed discrimination protection for the entire LGBT community, Dennan suggests.