Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits sex discrimination in the workplace in California, as well as the rest of the United States. However, who is protected under the Act has recently been reinterpreted. According to U.S. Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, the law only prohibits discrimination against men and women, not against gender identities, including transgender individuals. This is a reversal from the Obama administration, which interpreted the Act to include transgender individuals.
This means that transgender individuals who are discriminated against will not be protected federally. However, California does have a state law that specifically protects against discrimination based on gender identity and expression. So, these employees will continue to be protected under California state law. This protection does not extend to federal employees working in California though.
Despite the change in the law federally, as stated above, most people working in California will still be protected under state law. This means that employers cannot treat transgender individuals any differently. They must be given the same opportunities and business decisions must be made by merit and not gender identity. If an employer does discriminate against an employee due to gender identity, the employee may be entitled to compensation, including both back and future pay. They may also be required to give the employee their job back if they were terminated as a result of the discrimination.
There are many transgender individuals in California and most of them have jobs. These employees still have state protections against discrimination, but they may no longer have those protections federally. It is important for people to understand their employment rights and to know that they still may enforce them in California. Experienced attorneys understand the law and may be able to guide one through the process.
Source: KQED News, “Sessions says transgender employees not protected under federal civil rights law” Audrey Garces, Oct. 5, 2017