TEP warns City of Murfreesboro about transgender discrimination in wake of Fire Chief hire

After learning that the City of Murfreesboro has tapped Mark Foulks as the next head of the Murfreesboro Fire and Rescue Department, the Tennessee Equality Project sent the following information to Mayor Shane McFarland and Director of Human Resources Glen Godwin.  Part of Mr. Foulks' past record indicates anti-transgender harassment while he was employed by the City of Knoxville, as Out & About Nashville details in this recent piece.

To the Honorable Shane McFarland and Mr. Glen Godwin

Dear Mayor McFarland and Mr. Godwin:

This weekend the Tennessee Equality Project learned that Mr. Mark Foulks will lead the Murfreesboro Fire and Rescue Department.  We know that during the search process it was brought to the City's attention that there was evidence of anti-transgender harassment while Mr. Foulks was employed by the City of Knoxville.  Nevertheless, you offered him the job and it appears he has accepted it.

Perhaps Mr. Foulks has changed.  Time will tell.  But one thing that has definitely changed since the time that Mr. Foulks was employed by the City of Knoxville is the way the EEOC handles complaints of anti-transgender discrimination and harassment.  We think it important to point out these changes since your non-discrimination policies don't explicitly include gender identity.

The EEOC now views anti-transgender discrimination as sex discrimination, which is listed in your own policy as well as Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.  You may confirm this interpretation with the information at this link:  http://www.eeoc.gov/federal/otherprotections.cfm .

When individuals brought past charges against Mr. Foulks to your attention, they were trying to save you and employees of the City the pain of having to deal with the kind of incidents that occurred in Knoxville.  Now we are trying to save you and City employees the same pain by making sure you are duly informed about your obligations to any current and future transgender employees.  It would be prudent to make department heads and, indeed, all supervisors aware that gender identity discrimination is sex discrimination and, hence, prohibited. 

Thank you for your consideration of these issues and thank you for your service to the people of Murfreesboro.

Gratefully yours,

Chris Sanders

Executive Director

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  • commented 2015-08-02 11:56:50 -0500
    Very responsible and clear reminder.

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