Justice in Action CLE Program

Protected or Not?  When, Where, and How do Sex Discrimination Laws Protect LGBTQ People?  

Friday, February 10, 2017, 9:30 – 11:30 am 
Loews Hotel, 1200 Market Street, Philadelphia PA

CLE Credits

This program will provide 2 hours of CLE credits for attorneys, accredited by the Pennsylvania CLE Board.
It is offered in conjunction with Mazzoni Center's 2017 Justice in Action luncheon and fundraiser.


Upon approval, attendees will be able to register online at for the following fees:
·     $99 private practice
·     $49 public interest/sector and non-attorneys


Discrimination against individuals because of LGBTQ identities persists as a problem in many settings, including the workplace. Years ago, court decisions routinely rejected claims by LGBTQ individuals that the discrimination they experienced was illegal under laws prohibiting discrimination because of sex. Over approximately the last half-decade, courts and federal agencies across the United States have held that laws prohibiting discrimination because of sex do protect employees against anti-LGBT workplace discrimination. Others have reached the opposite conclusion, including a district court that enjoined the U.S. Department of Education from applying or relying on its guidance addressing schools’ obligations to respect the gender identity of their students regardless of the sex assigned to them at birth.
Employment discrimination cases have been at the forefront of these developments, and have, in turn, driven doctrinal developments – in education and health care, for example – that impact nearly everyone. With a new Presidential administration, the federal agencies that have been at the forefront of these developments will be under new leadership. To the extent known, many of those nominees are likely to revisit and redirect their agencies’ interpretations of these rules, and bills that would add explicit protections for LGBTQ individuals in employment, education, and health care continues to face strong, perhaps even increased, opposition. That leaves the courts, ultimately, as the arbiters of these laws.
Our CLE program will be two hours long. In the first hour, the focus will be primarily on the area with the largest number of court and agency decisions addressing these questions: employment. In the second hour, the presentations will address the influence of those developments on the other areas, including education and health care.
The CLE faculty will also address the differences between formal equality and lived equality. For example, even with successful court decisions and laws that protect individuals against workplace discrimination, not all people have equal access to legal assistance. Without legal assistance, rights and obligations under non-explicit antidiscrimination laws, even when interpreted to provide protection, are not always understood by those governed by them. The faculty will address the ways in which laws that might appear to provide equal treatment still fall short of providing LGBTQ people with comparable opportunities.


Thomas W. Ude, Jr. is Legal and Public Policy Director of Mazzoni Center, overseeing the provision of direct legal services to LGBT individuals and families as part of Mazzoni Center’s mission to provide health, wellness, and legal services to the LGBT community. The two most frequent legal issues that Mazzoni Legal Services is contacted for assistance with are discrimination and transition-related legal matters, including identity documents. He has more than twenty-five years of experience in the public, private and non-profit sectors, including seven years as an attorney with Lambda Legal, the oldest and largest national legal organization committed to achieving full recognition of the civil rights of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgender people and people living with HIV. He graduated cum laude in 1989 from the University of Michigan Law School, and received his bachelor's degree in political science from the University of Connecticut, graduating Phi Beta Kappa and summa cum laude.


Andrew A. Chirls, Esq. is an attorney at Fineman, Krekstein & Harris, PC, where he practices in commercial litigation and serves as court-appointed administrator of mass tort and multi-district litigation.  He was Chancellor of the Philadelphia Bar Association in 2005.  He has been active in LGBT rights as a member of the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations, a board member and treasurer of Lambda Legal, and a member of Mazzoni Center’s legal advisory board.  He has presented amicus briefs on LGBT and transgender equality issues to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court and the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, and he was the first lawyer to represent a plaintiff in an AIDS/HIV discrimination case before a jury in Pennsylvania. 


Katie Eyer is an anti-discrimination law teacher, scholar and litigator, who joined the Rutgers Law Faculty in June 2012. In 2005, as a Skadden Fellow Katie launched the Employment Rights Project at Equality Advocates Pennsylvania (now at the Mazzoni Center).  At Equality Advocates, and later at the firm of Salmanson Goldshaw PC, Katie litigated precedent-setting cases on behalf of LGBT employees, and also helped to draft and enact several LGBT-inclusive local ordinances in PA. Katie continues to consult and lecture regularly on LGBT employment topics, including coverage of sexual orientation and gender identity under the federal anti-discrimination laws.
Omar Gonzalez Pagan, Esq. is a Staff Attorney in the New York Office of Lambda Legal, the oldest and largest national legal organization committed to achieving full recognition of the civil rights of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgender people and individuals living with HIV.  His work spans all aspects of Lambda Legal’s impact litigation, policy advocacy, and public education efforts. As a member of the legal team in the landmark case Obergefell v. Hodges, Gonzalez-Pagan helped secure the freedom to marry for same-sex couples and their families across the United States.  He also played an active role in the successful challenges to the marriage bans in Guam, Louisiana, and Puerto Rico.  Among his current cases are: Smith v. Avanti, where he represents a same-sex couple, one of whom is transgender, and their children in a federal housing discrimination case; Hamm v. City of New York, seeking to address the violation of the constitutional rights of a gay man brutally attacked while visiting his incarcerated partner at Rikers Island; and Evancho v. Pine-Richland School District, challenging a school’s discriminatory restroom policy on behalf of three transgender high school students.
Prior to joining Lambda Legal, Gonzalez-Pagan worked for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts as an Assistant Attorney General, a Special Assistant District Attorney, and an Associate General Counsel to the Massachusetts Inspector General.  As an Assistant Attorney General, Gonzalez-Pagan was part of the team that successfully challenged the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in Massachusetts v. HHS. He has been recognized as one of 2016’s Best LGBT Lawyers Under 40 by the National LGBT Bar Association and a Public Interest Leader by the Boston Bar Association.  In 2012, he was selected as a Fellow by the New Leaders Council in recognition for his commitment to the public interest and progressive values. Gonzalez-Pagan graduated from Cornell University in 2007, and is a 2010 graduate of the University of Pennsylvania Law School, where he served as an editor of the University of Pennsylvania Journal of Constitutional Law.  He also an M.E.S. in Environmental Policy from the University of Pennsylvania.
Brian McGinnis, Esq. is an Associate Attorney with Fox Rothschild LLP. Brian advises businesses on a wide range of employment law issues, including the adoption of policies and practices designed to avoid lawsuits and how to respond when the inevitable suit is filed. His litigation experience includes representing employers in federal court and administrative agency proceedings. He also guides clients in the drafting of employee handbooks and workplace polices, and in complying with federal, state and local regulations. He has particular experience with issues involving transgender employees in the workplace and counseling employers on transgender legal issues and best practices.
Prior to practicing law, Brian worked in government and politics and for issue-oriented nonprofits and public interest campaigns. For nearly seven years, he served as Communications Director to New Jersey General Assembly Majority Leader Louis D. Greenwald and Assemblywoman Pamela R. Lampitt. In this role, he directed media relations, managed digital media communications, and developed and coordinated all external messaging for the members in a wide variety of media – earning a reputation for aggressive advocacy and effective public relations strategies. In addition, Brian coordinated policy analysis and development for members of the Assembly in the area of gun violence prevention, as well as for policy initiatives affecting New Jersey’s LGBTQ community. Brian is a veteran of numerous political campaigns at the statewide, legislative, county and local levels. Brian also previously served as South Jersey Director to Garden State Equality, New Jersey’s leading LGBTQ civil rights advocacy organization.