As an individual, your right to be respected and treated fairly in the workplace regardless of your gender identity is a cornerstone of employment law. Let’s dive into the complex issue of transgender discrimination in the California workplace and understand how you can stand against it.
Understanding Transgender Discrimination
Transgender discrimination refers to unfavorable treatment or bias in the workplace based on an individual’s gender identity or perceived gender identity. It can appear in different forms. For instance, if an employer refuses to hire you or terminates your employment because you are transgender or are transitioning, that’s a clear case of discrimination. It also includes subtler forms of bias, such as coworkers or supervisors refusing to use your chosen name or the correct pronouns, or creating a hostile work environment through derogatory comments or offensive jokes.
Legal Protections for Transgender Employees
In the United States, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act prohibits discrimination based on sex, which courts have interpreted to include discrimination based on gender identity. Similarly, the Americans with Disabilities Act provides protection from discrimination for individuals who have undergone gender transition. At the state level, the California Fair Employment and Housing Act protects individuals from discrimination on the basis of gender identity and gender expression. Since July 2022, the Civil Rights Department in California enforces these laws.
In relation to non-binary identities, California law recognizes non-binary as a legal gender. This means that employers must respect your non-binary identity, which includes using your preferred gender pronouns and providing equal treatment in all aspects of employment.
Recognizing Transgender Discrimination
Recognition of discrimination is key to combating it.
- Direct discrimination – may be more visible and includes actions such as being passed over for promotions, unfair pay, or being terminated due to your gender identity.
- Indirect discrimination – can be less apparent and may occur through biased job applications or interview questions, or through policies that seem neutral but disproportionately harm transgender employees.
As mentioned previously, protection for employees extends to those who are in the process of transitioning on the job. If you face any negative consequences due to your transition or coming out of work, such as changes in job duties, loss of opportunities, or increased hostility, these could be signs of discrimination.
Responding to Transgender Discrimination
When facing discrimination, it’s important to keep detailed records of each incident, including dates, locations, people involved, and what happened. You should also report these incidents to your HR department or another authority within your company according to the company’s policy. If you’re coming out at work, know that you have legal protections against retaliation and mistreatment.
Legal Recourse and Damages in a Transgender Discrimination Case
If you believe you’ve been discriminated against, you can file a complaint with the California Civil Rights Department or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. If these agencies allow you to sue, or if they do not provide a satisfactory resolution, you may bring a lawsuit against your employer.
Damages in a discrimination lawsuit can vary but may include:
- Compensation for lost wages
- Emotional distress
- Punitive damages
Addressing Transgender Discrimination
At Moore Ruddell LLP, we’re committed to helping you understand and exercise your legal rights. We can help you navigate the complaint process, assist you in gathering and documenting evidence, and provide representation during any legal proceedings. Our team offers free consultations, ensuring you have access to the information you need. We’re here to support you every step of the way as you assert your rights and seek justice.