Transgender issues have taken the country by storm this year. Individual states have vastly different positions on transgender issues, including the rights that transgender employees have in the workplace.
At present, there are no federal laws that protect transgender employees from workplace discrimination or harassment based on sexual orientation and gender identity, so it is up to the individual states to provide transgender employees with legal protections concerning harassment and discrimination in the workplace. Fortunately, California has some of the strongest transgender rights laws in the nation.
California Transgender Employee Rights Laws
California Laws Making a Big Impact on Transgender Employee Rights
California has consistently been at the forefront of the legal battle to secure equal treatment under the law for all workers, regardless of the employee’s sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity. The California legislature has systematically been enacting new laws and addressing loopholes in state law to help provide and protect the rights of all workers, and particularly transgender employees. The transgender population has largely been ignored when it comes to legal protections, and California is making every effort to address this. Below are just a few of the rights that transgender workers have in California:
- Transgender workers are protected against workplace discrimination and harassment based on their gender identity. Under the Gender Nondiscrimination Bill of 2003 (AB 196) amendment to the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), regardless of whether the employee has completed any portion of the gender transition process (meaning physical transition or social transition), transgender employees have the right to:
- Not be asked questions directed at identifying the employee’s gender identity or sexual orientation.
- Workplace policies that protect against discrimination of employees based on their gender identity.
- Be paid the same as other employees for performing the same work.
- Protected from adverse employment actions based on their gender identity.
- Be addressed by the name and gender pronouns that he or she identifies with and the right to be protected from intentional or persistent refusal by co-workers and employers to use the appropriate pronouns and name to identify the transgender employee.
- Access safe and appropriate restroom facilities and locker rooms, meaning that the transgender employee must have access to the restroom designation that he or she identifies with.
- Dress for work according to the gender that the transgender employee identifies with.
- Transgender employees at private universities claiming Title IX exemption are protected from workplace discrimination. SB 1146 corrected a loophole in the law that allowed for discrimination of transgender employees at private universities in California that claimed a Title IX exemption (for example, a transgender employee could be discriminated against if it is in conflict with the school’s values). Under SB 1146, transgender Title IX exemption private university employees were granted legal recourse if they experience discrimination in the workplace based on their gender identity, gender expression or sexual orientation.
Despite having the rights discussed above, many employers and coworkers act in violation of these rights and discriminate against or harass transgender employees. Transgender employees in California have legal protections and you do not have to stand harassment or discrimination in the workplace.
Let us help you fight for your rights. Please feel free to contact one of our experienced employment discrimination lawyers at Hennig Ruiz today for a free consultation about your situation.