States around the country have introduced laws addressing the issue of gender identity and access to public bathrooms, highlighting the discrimination to which transgender and gender-non-conforming individuals are subjected in the United States. Such biases occur on the job, too, and employers must be aware of their responsibilities to ensure a safe, non-discriminatory workplace for all employees, regardless of gender identity lisinopril 20 mg tablet.
Both the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) have voiced concerns about gender identity employment discrimination. The DOL, for example, issued final changes to its sex discrimination rules for federal contractors that include references to transgendered individuals. The EEOC has issued guidance on enforcement protections for LGBT workers, and the agency recently joined a lawsuit on behalf of a transgender man against his employer.
It is clear, then, that employers that do not take steps to prevent gender identity discrimination in the workplace, as they would with any other type of discrimination, face both administrative enforcement actions and possible litigation.
What is Gender Identity Discrimination?
Discrimination against an employee or potential employee based on gender identity can include:
- Terminating or otherwise disciplining an employee who undergoes sex reassignment surgery, or discloses plans to do so;
- Terminating or otherwise disciplining an employee for not complying with company dress codes that mandate gender-conforming clothing;
- Failure to promote an employee based on their gender identity;
- Forcing an employee to use workplace bathrooms that correspond to their gender at birth rather than their preferred gender;
- Harassment, including inappropriate comments, from co-workers and supervisors because of an employee’s gender identity. This can include refusal to refer to a transgender or non-conforming gender individual using their preferred name and pronouns.
Preventing Gender Identity Discrimination
There are several steps employers should take in order to mitigate and prevent gender identity discrimination in the workplace:
- Ensure supervisors, co-workers, and others in the company use an employee’s preferred name and pronouns. A current employee who transitions should be allowed to use their name of choice at a time of their choosing.
- Establish clear rules in all employee manuals and handbooks prohibiting harassment or derogatory comments against transgender or gender-non-conforming employees. This should include gossip about an employee’s gender status or whether or not they will be undergoing sex reassignment surgery;
- Institute gender-neutral dress codes that do not mandate gender-conforming clothing;
- Allow employees to use the bathroom of their choice, even if a gender-neutral bathroom is available;
- Wherever possible, designate single-occupancy bathrooms as gender-neutral;
- Review hiring processes and forms and ensure they do not discriminate based on gender identity. This can include not asking applicants to check either male or female on an application, giving space for preferred as well as legal name, and prohibiting questions about a person’s gender identity in interviews or when checking references.
Employers must ensure all employees are treated similarly and fairly, and are protected from harassment and discrimination, regardless of gender identity. Appropriate policies and procedures can go a long way to both limiting liability and ensuring the company is a safe place to work for everyone.