Eliminating Barriers in the Workplace for Transgender Employees

by Lorrie Ray, Esq., SPHR, Director of Membership Development

Bulletin,  Diversity and Equity,  Hiring,  HR Expertise and Support

By now, you have read that the U.S. Supreme Court held that sexual orientation and gender identity are protected classes under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. Many employers report that they are accustomed to practices concerning sexual orientation, but want to be sure they are on firm footing when it comes to gender identity.

There is support and guidance employers can and should turn to when learning more about this topic. Employers may want to first turn to federal agency guidance. As an example, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has a page on its website devoted to restroom access.  Employers are required to have such facilities available to all employees under OSHA sanitation standards, and OSHA issued guidance to make sure that this was not compromised due to the needs of transgender employees who are moving through gender re-identification.

There is also assistance from the Job Accommodation Network (ASK JAN) website with a page devoted to this topic. A blog post on the site points out in its list of tips for employers to follow. This includes having those in management receive training so that they can set an example, making sure that employees are using the proper pronoun when referring to all of their coworkers, and talking to any employee going through a gender transition to find out how to best support them.

Employers Council can also assist. We offer a class with guest staff from the Center of  Colfax. You can find additional information here. Others have discussed this in presentations at conferences and have a body of knowledge that will allow them to assist your organization.

The more employers inform themselves about this topic, the more likely they are to not only follow the law but to embrace all employees and create a successful work environment.

About the author
Lorrie Ray, Esq., SPHR, Director of Membership Development

Lorrie's experience in the variety of problems typically facing employers includes resolution of civil rights cases before state and federal administrative agencies, federal wage and hour disputes and state law claims, employment discrimination, wrongful discharge and health and safety laws. She is also a frequent lecturer on employment law matters. Previous to working at Employers Council, Lorrie worked at the U.S. Department of Labor Office of the Solicitor for a little over three years, prosecuting wage and hour cases for the Department.