Is Workplace Discrimination Against Transgender People Illegal?

California's Department Of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) has issued a memo about transgender rights in the workplace.

The memo states that those who identify as transgender are protected under the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) provision that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex, gender, gender identity or gender expression. In other words, transgender people have the right to a workplace free of discrimination.

What Transgender Workplace Discrimination Looks Like

Discrimination against transgender people can come in many forms, all of which are prohibited in the workplace. Trans people should not be terminated or harassed on the basis of their gender identity or expression. That is obvious. However, many of the forms of employment discrimination that transgender people suffer may not be so overt.

For example, the memo specifically points out that employees are allowed to dress suitably for their gender identity. If an employer has a dress code, it must be used in a manner that is not discriminatory. More specifically, transgender employees should not be asked to dress in the manner of the sex they were assigned at birth if it does not correspond with their gender identity.

The memo also addresses bathroom usage. Transgender employees must be allowed to use the bathroom that corresponds with their gender identity. They must not be asked to use the bathroom of the sex they were assigned at birth if it does not correspond with their gender identity, nor should they be asked to use a unisex single stall restroom if they do not choose to do so.

Transgender employees need to be aware that they have rights. When those rights are violated and they are discriminated against at work, they may take action.