Gender Identity Discrimination
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If you believe you have been subjected to gender identity discrimination at work in Los Angeles, you may be able to secure relief under state or federal law. Eleven states including California have laws prohibiting gender identity discrimination in both private and public jobs.
Gender Identity Laws
Californian law prohibits discrimination against transsexuals, transvestites and “persons with traits not stereotypically associated with their gender.” These traits may include personality, clothing, hairstyle, speech, mannerisms and demeanor, and secondary sex characteristics such as vocal pitch, facial hair and body size or shape. Thus California law protects not only transgender individuals but also men who are “perceived” as being too “feminine” and women who are “perceived” as being too “masculine.”
Unlike the prohibition on discrimination proposed in the Nondiscrimination Act of 2003, which would not protect cross-dressing in the workplace, the gender-identity laws enacted in California present unique challenges to employers and possibly socially uncomfortable situations for coworkers. For example, these laws raise legitimate concerns regarding the enforcement of dress codes and the use of traditionally single-sex facilities such as washrooms.
While these laws generally allow for the enforcement of unisex uniform policies and grooming standards, employers may not apply different standards for men and women. For example, a policy prohibiting the wearing of eye makeup should be lawful if it is enforced in a nondiscriminatory manner, but if an employer does not generally prohibit the wearing of eye makeup, it cannot prohibit a male employee from doing so. Similarly, while an employer should also be able to prohibit, in a nondiscriminatory manner, provocative, outlandish or flamboyant dress in the workplace, it is clear that regardless of the employer’s or its customers’ personal tastes or preferences, cross-dressing itself may not be prohibited.
More difficult, employers with operations in California with gender-identity protections should be prepared to address the difficult issues that may arise with respect to granting transgender employees access to such traditionally single-sex facilities as restrooms and locker rooms. For example, in Minnesota, both transgender employees who have been denied access to the restroom of their choosing and non-transgender employees who have objected to granting transgender employees access to the restroom of their choosing have sued for employment discrimination. Unless private single-occupancy restrooms or changing rooms happen to be available in the workplace, employers that confront this issue will have to come up with creative and practical solutions that address the privacy and civil rights of both transgender and non-transgender employees.
Similarly, both Title VII and most state anti-discrimination laws recognize a limited bona fide occupational qualification defense, permitting employers to consider a person’s gender when filling certain jobs that directly raise privacy concerns for customers or other third parties, such as restroom and locker-room attendants. However, it is unclear whether a similar BFOQ defense will be recognized with respect to transgender applicants or employees in the states that have extended equal-rights protections to them.
If you are a victim of Los Angeles discrimination in the workplace, contact a Los Angeles discrimination lawyer at our law firm today to set up a consultation. We help victims of Los Angeles discrimination at work, including sexual orientation. Our Los Angeles discrimination attorney gives clients information about what to do if he or she encounters discrimination at work.