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SB 703 Expands Transgender Employee Rights in California, Offers Equal Benefits

In early October 2015, California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law a handful of employment law bills that now offer more protections to people who are facing employment discrimination due to their gender identity. One of the landmark bills, Senate Bill SB 703 (SB 703), further protects transgender employees who work for companies doing business with California state agencies.

But how exactly does this new law expand on existing transgender rights and equal benefits laws? This article will answer questions and provide an overview of SB 703 in order to give you a better understanding of what the law entails.

sb-703-transgender-employee-rights-in-California-equal-benefits.pngIn early October 2015, California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law a handful of employment law bills that now offer more protections to people who are facing employment discrimination due to their gender identity. One of the landmark bills, Senate Bill SB 703 (SB 703), further protects transgender employees who work for companies doing business with California state agencies.

But how exactly does this new law expand on existing transgender rights and equal benefits laws? This article will answer questions and provide an overview of SB 703 in order to give you a better understanding of what the law entails.

About California Senate Bill 703

How does California Senate Bill 703 protect transgender workers?

California Senate Bill 703 (SB 703) bars state agencies from entering into contracts in the amount of $100,000 or more with companies that discriminate in the health care coverage and employee benefits they offer. This applies to contractors that don't offer the same benefits to transgender employees that they provide to other workers who don't identify as transgender.

Authored by California State Senator Mark Leno, SB 703 further expands existing equal benefit laws in California, ensuring that California tax dollars are used for both in and out-of-state contracting companies that do not discriminate against employees and offer equal benefits.

Despite California's pioneering advances in prohibiting discrimination against transgender employees, companies that contract with the state that self-insure under federal law or that are based out-of-state, may offer plans that don't comply with the same gender nondiscrimination requirements applied to other companies doing business in California, resulting in unfair denial of health coverage to transgender workers.

What is the background of transgender employee benefits laws in California?

Before the introduction of SB 703, California began expanding lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employee benefits protections in 2003 with AB 17. This law prohibits California state agencies from doing business with companies that discriminate in the employee benefits they offer between employees and their spouses, plus employees with registered domestic partners. California also enacted AB 2208 in 2004, mandating that California health plans and insurers provide equal benefits to domestic partners that spouses could already receive.

In 2012, transgender people were offered more protections when the California Department of Insurance issued regulations to implement the California Insurance Gender Nondiscrimination Act of 2006, which prohibits insurance providers doing business in the state of California from discriminating against transgender people.

A year later in 2013, the Department of Managed Health Care was ordered to remove blanket exclusions of coverage that targeted transgender people and their health needs. This led to more states banning transgender health insurance exclusions and Medicare removing its own discriminatory transgender exclusion in 2014.

The latest equal benefits requirements under SB 703 are just another advancement that is helping California lead the way in combatting transgender discrimination in not just California, but across the nation.

California SB 703: Additional Information

  • Bill Text: SB 703 - Public contracts: prohibitions: discrimination
  • Two Landmark Transgender Rights Bills Pass California Assembly via The Rainbow Times
  • Brown signs transgender bills into law via The Bay Area Reporter

No one deserves to be discriminated against because they identify as transgender. If you feel that your employer is violating California employment law, contact the experienced and passionate transgender discrimination lawyers at Hennig Ruiz for your free consultation today.

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