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Transgender Rights in the Workplace

Transgender Rights in the Workplace

The Attorney General has stated that transgender employees are not protected by the Civil Rights Act.

Transgender Rights in the WorkplaceThis month, the United States Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued a memorandum to all federal prosecutors that declared that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 does not prohibit employment discrimination on the basis of gender identity, or transgender status. According to the memorandum issued by Sessions, “Title VII’s prohibition on sex discrimination encompasses discrimination between men and women but does not encompass discrimination based on gender identity per se, including transgender status.”

The question of workplace protection for transgender employees is evolving, particularly in times of political change. However, Attorney General Sessions’ memorandum does not mean that transgender employees have no protection from discrimination. A number of federal courts have specifically interpreted the same provision of the Civil Rights Act to protect transgender employees. The United States Court of Appeals for the First, Sixth, and Eleventh Circuits have all determined that discriminating against an individual based on his or her status as a transgender person is a form of unlawful sex discrimination under Title VII. In addition, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has issued an enforcement guidance stating that it views gender identity as a protected trait under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.

Beyond federal law, various state laws also protect the rights of transgender employees. As an employment attorney can tell you, 19 states currently have laws that protect the rights of transgender employees. This includes California, where the California Fair Employment and Housing Act includes a Gender Nondiscrimination amendment that prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender identity or transgender status. Under California’s law, transgender employees are entitled to dress for work according to the gender that he or she identifies with, be addressed by the name and gender pronouns that he or she identifies with, and be protected from adverse employment actions, such as being terminated for coming out as transgender.

If an employee has been discriminated against on the basis of his or her gender identity, he or she does have rights under both federal and state law. Despite the Attorney General’s memorandum, federal courts and the EEOC have both interpreted the Civil Rights Act to protect transgender employees. In addition, state laws may offer specific additional protections for transgender employees. An experienced employment attorney can guide you through your options based on the facts of your case, which may including filing a claim against your employer.

At PLBSMH, our skilled employment attorneys have more than forty years of experience helping employees who have been discriminated against on the basis of their protected characteristics, such as gender identity or sexual orientation. We will fight for your rights and will stand by you throughout the process. Contact us today at (800) 435-7542 or info@plbsmh.com to learn more about how we can help you, and to set up a free initial consultation with one of our seasoned employment attorneys.

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