Currently, 1.7 million people in the United States identify as transgender. With recent media attention on the difficulties transgender individuals have faced regarding bathroom access and discrimination in schools, workplace settings, and other public spaces throughout the country, many employers are changing their policies to become more inclusive and prevent costly discrimination settlements.
Changing policies to be more inclusive to transgender individuals is not always a simple process. Companies considering making this type of change must consider the feelings of privacy violations and religious rights of other employees and customers. With no clear federal guideline for accommodating transgender employees, many companies are left to create their own policies.
No Federal Protections for Transgender Individuals
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is the primary federal law that governs workplace discrimination. It includes the characteristics, known as protected classes, upon which it is illegal for employers to discriminate against employees. Gender identity is not included in this set of characteristics. However, sex is one of the protected classes included in the law, and in numerous cases, employees have successfully recovered compensation for damages they suffered due to gender identity discrimination through sex discrimination lawsuits.
Although gender identity is not a protected class under federal law, it is a protected class under many state and municipal laws. Companies operating in these states and municipalities must create policies that comply with local anti-discrimination laws.
Discrimination Can Be Costly for Employers
The United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) states that employees have the right to use bathrooms that correspond with their gender identity. To avoid discrimination claims based on bathroom access, employers should follow this guideline, as well as all interpretations of Title VII’s description of sex discrimination. Something as simple as holding employees of different sexes to certain dress code standards or allowing other employees to refer to a transgender employee by pronouns other than their preferred pronouns can cause the transgender employee to suffer significant damages where the employer is liable.
A discrimination claim can be costly for employers, not just in the financial sense, but in business lost due to a changed public perception of the company. Not updating company policies to provide protections for transgender individuals can be expensive, too. From an employment liability insurance provider’s perspective, a company that does not have clear LGBTQ bathroom, dress code, and family leave policies in place is a higher liability risk than a company that actively, routinely alters its policies to remain inclusive to all employees.
Chester County LGBTQ Discrimination Lawyers at Sidney L. Gold & Associates, P.C. Represent Discrimination Victims Seeking Justice
Transgender individuals and others who suffer because of the discrimination they face in the workplace have the right to pursue monetary compensation for those damages through discrimination claims. Fill out our online form or call us at 215-569-1999 today to schedule your initial consultation with a Chester County LGBTQ discrimination lawyer at Sidney L. Gold & Associates, P.C. We are centrally located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and we proudly serve clients from the surrounding areas.