The issue of transgender rights has been scrutinized by employers and the law in recent news. However, it is important to note that all transgender individuals have rights, and it is not in any employer’s legal right to discriminate based on an individual’s gender identification. Someone affected by discrimination has up to a year to report the abuse with the California State Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH).
Transgender Challenges in the Workplace
Many of the earlier laws that preceded forms of transgender equality employment laws were based off of the sexual harassment laws written to combat workplace discrimination. The Supreme Court decision of Price Waterhouse v. Hopkins (1989) was a harassment case that addressed a related issue that changed the landscape for transgender workplace rights cases.
Here was the story: Ann Hopkins was denied a promotion by the Waterhouse Company because she did not act as a woman ‘should’ in the work place. The stereotype of women’s mannerisms dictated her place in the company, not the quality of her work or her professional attributes. The court ruled in her favor, legally establishing gender stereotyping as a form of sex discrimination.
The Federal Court decision of Glenn v. Brumby (2011) came to a decision that was based on the Hopkins trial. An employee claimed that she was fired from the Georgia General Assembly because of her transition. She claimed that this was a violation of the Equal Protection Clause per the 14th amendment. The court established that there is a similarity between transgender discrimination and sex discrimination.
Transgender Rights in the Workplace
According to the DFEH, there are two aspects of gender transition that do not require the completion of any steps to be protected under the law. The first is Social Transition, or identifying oneself as a different gender than the one identified at birth. This affects gendered restroom usage and/or a change in name and/or pronoun. Physical Transition is any physical alteration that changes an aspect of one’s birth sex, such as surgical and/or hormone procedures.
Employers are not allowed to:
- Ask discriminatory interview questions aimed at discovering gender identity and/or sexual orientation
- Ask for medical documents related to gender identity and/or sexual orientation
Employees have the right to:
- Gender-specific bathrooms, locker rooms, and/or showers
- File a complaint based on sexual and/or gender harassment
If you have been discriminated against or harassed in the workplace for your gender identification, call our law offices to set up a consultation. The Harvard-educated employment law attorney at our firm has won millions for wrongfully-treated employees throughout Los Angeles.