Omid Nosrati

New protections for transgender, gender-nonconforming workers in effect

While most people associate the days in and around the July 4th holiday with fireworks and barbeques, it's actually a significant time from a legal standpoint. That's because July 1 is typically the day on which the state's new laws, rules and regulations officially take effect.

Indeed, consider that as of this past Saturday, employers here in California are now subject to a host of new workplace regulations covering transgender and gender-nonconforming employees.

Both gender expression -- how people choose to represent themselves in speech, behavior, dress, etc. -- and gender identity -- the gender with which people identify -- have been protected classes under the state's anti-discrimination law since 2011.

What these new workplace guidelines, developed and enforced by the Department of Fair Employment and Housing, are designed to do is help establish, enforce and expand these protections.

The need for such an effort becomes clear when you consider that a 2016 survey by the National Center for Transgender Equality and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force determined that 25 percent of transgender Californians were denied a promotion or fired, while roughly 50 percent went un-hired, and 75 percent experienced some form of harassment or discrimination.

Under the new protections, employers are now required to do the following:

  • Provide employees  with access to restrooms, locker rooms and/or showers that correspond with their gender identity
  • Permit transgender or gender-nonconforming employees to be known by their preferred names and pronouns, regardless of whether a legal name change has occurred
  • Refrain from discriminating against those employees in the process of transitioning or starting to live outwardly as the gender with which they identify
  • Avoid imposing dress/grooming standards on employees inconsistent with their gender identity or expression    

While these new protections mark a major legal milestone, state lawmakers appear far from finished in their efforts. Indeed, Sen. Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) has introduced a measure that, if passed, would mandate workplace training around this issue.

Stay tuned for updates …

If you believe that an employer has discriminated against you in any capacity, understand that you have rights and you have options for seeking justice.

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