Confused about how to prevent transgender discrimination in your office? You’re not alone. California transgender employees have specific rights and are protected under California’s Fair Employment & Housing Act (FEHA). Employers should educate themselves and train their supervisors and staff as to how to treat transgender employees fairly and lawfully.
California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing offers some guidance:
· Interviews & Inquiries – Employers should not fish for information about an applicant’s or an employee’s sexual orientation or gender identity. Further, employers should not ask questions about an employee’s or applicant’s potential plans relating to medical procedures or surgery.
· Dress codes & Appearance – Employers should only apply the dress code and appearance standards of the transgender employee’s chosen gender identity. In other words, employees who identify as female must follow clothing and other policies appropriate for females in your workplace. Transgender employees should not be disciplined or retaliated against for wearing clothing not typically associated with their biological gender or for wearing/not wearing make-up and jewelry.
· Restrooms & Locker Rooms – Employers must provide safe and appropriate restrooms and other such facilities for all employees. Transgender employees must be allowed to use the restroom corresponding to his/her gender identity. For example, employers should not prevent a transgender woman from using the women’s restroom. However, employers may wish to offer a single-stall bathroom for use by all. This provides an additional restroom option for transgender employees and for non-transgender employees, with the goal of providing a comfortable option for everyone.
· Application of Protections – These protections from discrimination and retaliation are not incumbent on a transgender employee being at any particular point in their transgender journey – they apply if the employee is at the start of the process all the way through medical treatments and surgery.
This is an evolving area of law, and a difficult issue for many to deal with. Bring this issue into the workplace and it’s even more challenging. Employers, supervisors and co-workers need to treat all employees with respect, dignity and equality – because it’s the law, and because it’s the right thing to do.
Contact Freeland Law APC for a consultation with Michael Freeland, experienced employment lawyer serving San Diego, California.
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