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Gender Identity Discrimination in the California Workplace: Common Questions, Answered

Gender Identity Discrimination in the California Workplace California is one of 17 states that prohibit gender identity discrimination at work. This means that California employers are barred from mistreating employees who are either gender nonconforming or transgender. But while California has some of the strongest LGBT protections in the United States, transgender workers still face significant disparities in the workplace by employers and coworkers who defy state laws. Therefore, it is crucial for employees to understand California's gender identity discrimination laws and how they protect workers from unlawful discrimination and harassment in the workplace.

Understanding Gender Identity Discrimination in California

What is Gender Identity Discrimination?

Gender identity discrimination is the act of treating people unfairly and differently, or taking adverse employment actions against someone due to his or gender identity or gender expression. If you are a transgender worker in California who is about to undergo sex reassignment surgery, has recently transitioned to the gender you most identify with, or are facing questions from your employer about your gender, you may notice these common signs of gender identity discrimination in the workplace:

  • A coworker or boss teases you, jokes, uses slurs, or threatens you because of your gender identity.
  • Your employer requires that you adhere to attire and grooming rules that apply to a gender that you do not identity with (e.g. You identify as a female, yet are still made to wear men's attire or uniforms).
  • Your employer requires you to use restrooms at work that do not conform to your gender identity. In California, your employer must allow you to use a restroom of the gender with which you identify.
  • You are fired, demoted, or denied promotions due to undergoing or planning sex reassignment surgery.
  • You are fired, demoted, or denied promotions for cross-dressing inside or outside of the workplace.
  • You are denied a job due to your gender identity or gender expression.

These are just some examples of gender identity discrimination at work. If you are being subjected to any of these unlawful behaviors or other forms of transgender discrimination in the workplace, it's important that you contact a California employment attorney for help.

Is Gender Identity a Protected Class in California?

The California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) prohibits employment discrimination and harassment of transgender workers by providing protections based on gender identity and gender expression. California law also protects employees' rights to dress or appear consistently with their gender identity in the workplace.

What are California's Gender Identity Discrimination Laws?

The California FEHA has prohibited both housing and workplace discrimination against transgender and gender nonconforming people since 2004, and since 2005 in public accommodations such as restrooms. The Gender Nondiscrimination Act has also recently made existing gender identity discrimination laws more clear by adding "gender identity" and "gender expression" to their own protected categories. California's Equal Restroom Act also requires workplaces with single-occupancy restrooms to be available to everyone, regardless of gender identity.

What's the Difference Between Gender Identity Discrimination and Sex Discrimination?

There are distinct differences between gender identity discrimination and sex discrimination. The term "gender identity" is defined as a person's self-identification as either a man or a woman. For some people, their gender identity doesn't align with their anatomical sex at birth. So, if you are facing gender identity discrimination, this means that you are being treated unfavorably because of your gender identity or gender expression. On the other hand, sex discrimination is when an employer treats a worker or job applicant unfavorably due to a person's actual or perceived sex, or affiliations with an organization or group of a particular sex.

What Can I Do If I'm Harassed or Discriminated Against Due to My Gender Identity?

If you think that you have been facing gender identity harassment or discrimination at work, consult an experienced California employment lawyer who can help you file a complaint. Be prepared with written instances of when the unlawful behaviors occurred at work, including the names of coworkers involved, and any supporting documentation such as letters, emails, texts, or voicemails. These items can help you prove your case to the court.

Gender Identity Discrimination in California: Resources

  • FAQ: The Gender Nondiscrimination Act via Transgender Law Center
  • California AB 1732: What the Equal Restroom Access Act Means for Employees
  • California Restaurants Launch First Transgender Jobs Program
  • Gender Identity Discrimination via Workplace Fairness
  • What Rights Do Transgender Employees Have in the California Workplace?

Los Angeles Gender Identity Discrimination Attorneys

Our experienced Los Angeles gender identity discrimination lawyers passionately fight for the rights of transgender employees. If you feel you have been discriminated against on the job due to your gender identity, contact us today for a free consultation.

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