In California, both state and federal law protects transgendered workers from harassment.
It is illegal in California to discriminate or sexually harass workers because of their gender identity.
Sexual harassment remains a pervasive problem in the workplace, despite state and federal laws forbidding the practice and most employers having written policies with “zero tolerance” towards sexual harassment. Sexual harassment occurs in all industries, to women, men, and transgendered individuals. Only recently, however, has the plight of many transgendered workers and workers transitioning gender been given protection under the law.
For many years, transgendered individuals had no recourse if they experienced harassment or a hostile work environment. It was also legal to fire a worker for being transgendered or transitioning gender on the job. Fortunately, both federal law and California state law now prevent discrimination and harassment against transgendered workers. However, because such protections are relatively recent, many businesses and industries have been slow to adopt a culture of inclusiveness and equal treatment of all workers regardless of gender identity.
Specific legal protections for transgendered workers
Since 2012, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has considered transgendered employees protected under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. In July, 2014, President Barack Obama issued an Executive Order preventing federal employees and contractors from discriminating against employees based on gender identity. In the fall of 2014, the EEOC began filing lawsuits to protect transgender employees against private employers.
In addition to federal protections, California law also protects workers from sexual harassment regardless sexual orientation or gender identity. California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act, as amended through the Gender Nondiscrimination Bill of 2003, includes in its protected class workers who identify with a gender not stereotypically associated with them at birth.
Specific prohibited harassment
Of course, being protected under the law and not being subjected to harassment are two separate issues. Despite the law, many transgendered workers experience harassment and discrimination. Common harassments prohibited under the law include:
· Engaging in a pattern of offensive conduct, including taunting, derogatory comments, and offensive language
· Prohibiting an employee from dressing reasonably in accordance with his or her gender identity
· Refusing to acknowledge an employee’s name change to reflect his or her gender identity
· Refusing an employee’s right to safe and appropriate restroom facilities
If you have experienced illegal discrimination and harassment because of your gender identity or sexual orientation, there are steps to take that can help stop discrimination and harassment. First, ask if your employer has a workplace policy on sexual harassment. Most do, and most prohibit sexual harassment against any person. Many HR departments will have a policy for dealing with complaints. In both cases, make sure to document your requests and any response you receive.
If your employer fails to take action and you continue to experience a hostile work environment, you may have a legal basis to file a lawsuit for sexual harassment. If successful, you may be able to recover fees for lost wages, reinstatement to a position, and other money damages.
The Law Offices of Stephen B. Morris, located in San Diego, is a vigorous defender of employee rights, including those who have experienced harassment or a hostile work environment based on sex, gender identity, or sexual orientation. Contact The Law Offices of Stephen B. Morris to discuss your legal options and rights.
Keywords: Sexual harassment, transgendered, employee’s, workers, vigorous defender, illegal discrimination