Victories for Transgender Workplace Rights in California

California recently took important steps in the area of transgender rights in the workplace.

The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing recently issued a “FAQ for Employers” on transgender rights in the workplace.  The Department identifies two types of gender transition, including (1) social transition (where an individual socially aligns their gender with their “internal sense of self”) and (2) physical transition (where an individual undergoes medical treatments “to physically align their body with internal sense of self”).

A person need not undergo either type of gender transition to be protected by California antidiscrimination law.

The DFEH FAQ also provides the following guidance to employers:
• Interviewers should not ask questions designed to detect a job applicant’s sexual orientation or gender identity.
• Employers should not ask questions about a person’s body or whether they plan to have surgery (this information is generally protected by law as confidential).
• A transgender person must be allowed to dress in the same manner as a non-transgender person. A transgender person’s compliance with a dress code cannot be judged more harshly than a non-transgender person.
• All employees have a right to safe and appropriate restroom and locker room facilities. This includes the right to use a restroom or locker room that corresponds to the employee’s gender identity, regardless of the employee’s assigned sex at birth.
• Where possible, an employer should provide an easily accessible unisex single stall bathroom for use by any employee who desires increased privacy, regardless of the underlying reason. This type of restroom can be used by employees who do not wish to share a restroom with a transgender coworker.
• Use of a unisex single stall should always be a matter of choice. No employee should be forced to use one either as a matter of policy or due to continuing harassment in a gender-appropriate facility.

Since March 1, 2017, all single-stall bathrooms in any business, place of public accommodation, or government agency in California have been required to be designated as gender neutral pursuant to AB 1732, which was signed by Governor Brown last year.  Make sure any single-stall bathroom at your workplace is compliant with this law.

For more information, contact your labor law counsel or visit www.dfeh.ca.gov.

By Jannah Manansala | May 9, 2017

Legal Developments