The DFEH has been progressive in updating regulations to expand protections for transgender employees against discrimination. In April of 2016 new definitions were provided which included sex, gender identity, gender expression, and transgender. Effective July 01, 2017, new transgender identity and expression regulations will take effect, which may impact employment policies you have in place. Below are the relevant changes which should be reviewed against your current policies and practices.
- Restroom and/or Facilities: Employers must provide equal access to facilities regardless of the sex/gender of the employee to any restroom or locker room. Employees are permitted to use facilities that correspond to the employee’s gender identity or gender expression. If there are single occupancy facilities Employers must use gender-neutral signage. In any case, an employer cannot require any proof of sex or gender for an employee to use a particular facility.
- Dress Standard: An employer cannot impose a dress standard that is inconsistent with an employee’s gender identity or expression in the absence of a business necessity. An employer can still require a dress code (appearance, grooming or dress standards) as long as it does not infringe upon an individual’s sex, gender, or gender identity or require an employee to dress or groom themselves in a manner inconsistent with the person’s gender identity or expression.
- Preferred Name and Identity/Pronoun: An employer must honor an employee’s request to be identified by a certain name, pronoun, or a certain gender identity. The employer is prohibited from requiring an employee to identify the preferred identity unless it is a condition of employment (you can still ask for voluntary provision of this information but tread lightly). Employers can insist on using an employee’s legal name or gender if it is otherwise required to meet a legally-mandated obligation such us filling out legal documents.
- Transitioning: An employer must accommodate the process an employee takes to transition from one gender to another. This includes several factors such as name change, pronoun preference, use of facilitates, and medical procedures. Employers are prohibited from discriminating against employees who are “transitioning” when making employment decisions.
As always, Holden Law Group is here to review any applicable changes and guide you in staying compliant with the changing landscape of employment law in California.