The National LGBTQ Task Force and the District of Columbia Office of Human Rights recently released a resource guide aimed at preventing workplace discrimination against transgender individuals. The guide was released as part of LGBT week.
According to a report from the DC Office of Human Rights, almost half of employers surveyed preferred less-qualified candidates who were not transgender over more-qualified transgender candidates. A 2011 report on workplace discrimination found that over 90 percent of transgender people in the U.S. experience workplace harassment and discrimination.
About 15 percent of transgender people make less than $10,000 a year, which is four times the poverty rate of the general population. Being transgender can cause discrimination and wage disparities that can make it difficult for transgender people to provide for themselves. Many transgender people are forced into illegal behaviors, including drug trafficking and prostitution, in an effort to make money. This can lead to a criminal record, which makes it even harder to find work.
The resource guide was released in an effort to help fight this discrimination. The guide contains a list of best practices for businesses in hiring and retaining transgender employees. The guide clarifies the law on discrimination and harassment against transgender individuals in the workplace, which varies by state.
The guide recommends that employers maintain confidentiality when it comes to transgender employees. Employers should also use the correct names and pronouns for those employees. Transgender employees should have access to the proper restroom. A gender-neutral dress code should be implemented. Finally, when there is a problem between transgender employees and other employees or co-workers, those problems should be addressed head-on.
Employers should also ensure that their hiring practices do not run afoul of discrimination laws. The interviews should be welcoming, rather than harsh and critical. Employers should use proactive measures to uncover discrimination. Background checks should be performed fairly, and when checking references, employers should avoid irrelevant questions.
Last month, the Departments of Justice and Education issued guidance to public schools about transgender students and restrooms. The guidance directed public schools to allow transgender students to use the restrooms that align with their gender identity. The guidance is not law, but schools that choose to discriminate against a transgender student could lose federal funding. The guidance also directed schools to respond to sex-based harassment from other students, allow students to participate in sex-segregated activities consistent with their gender identity, and protect students’ privacy related to their transgender identity. In addition, schools cannot require transgender students to get a medical diagnosis, treatment, or to provide documentation unless it is consistent with their gender identity.
Transgender job applicants or employees have a legal right to protection from discrimination and harassment based on both federal and state law. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has announced that Title VII, the federal sex discrimination law, protects employees who are discriminated against because they are transgender. In addition, California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act specifically forbids harassment or discrimination in employment on the basis of gender, gender identity, and gender expression. If you are discriminated against or harassed, you can sue for damages, including lost wages and benefits, as well as emotional damages and more.
If you are transgender and you have experienced discrimination or harassment in the workplace as a result, call the Oakland- San Francisco gender discrimination attorneys at Liberty Law at 510-645-1000 or 415-896-1000. At Liberty Law, Micha Star Liberty and Seth I. Rosenberg believe that no employee should be treated differently based on gender identity. Call us today to learn more or to schedule a free consultation on your case if you have been the victim of gender discrimination.