Judge Lee Rosenthal

Judge Lee Rosenthal, the chief judge of the Southern District Court of Texas based in Houston, ruled that federal employment protections based on sex include sexual orientation and gender identity.

Nicole Wittmer sued Phillips 66 because, she contends, the company didn’t hire her because she is transgender, according to the Dallas Morning News.

Rosenthal ruled against her because she couldn’t prove her case, but in the ruling said that had she been able to show gender identity was the reason she wasn’t hired, she would have found protection under existing federal law.

While judges in other states have ruled that Title VII includes sexual orientation and gender identity, this is the first time such a ruling has come from a judge in the Fifth Circuit, which includes Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas.

Rosenthal was appointed by President George H.W. Bush in 1992 and she became chief judge in 2016.

— David Taffet