LGBTQ+ employees facing sex-related discrimination within their workplace may take proper legal action.
Under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act, it is illegal for an employer to discriminate because of race, religious creed, color, national origin, ancestry, physical disability, mental disability, medical condition, genetic information, marital status, sex, gender, gender identity, gender expression, age, sexual orientation, or military and veteran status of any person.
What Is Sex-Related Discrimination?
Sex-related discrimination is when an employee or administrator creates an unsafe or uncomfortable work environment for someone who is a member of the LGBTQ community.
Examples of sex-related discrimination against transgender employees include:
- Jokes or derogatory comments about transgender people
- Repeated and intentional use of the wrong name or pronouns
- Invasive, disrespectful personal questions may constitute harassment
Additionally, sexual harassment applies to sex-related discrimination. Sexual harassment can include unwanted physical touching, inappropriate propositions or comments, unequal treatment, leering, isolation, and offensive behavior.
What Are My Rights In The Workplace?
Within the workplace, Transgender employees have certain rights to identify with their gender. First, all employees can choose pronouns they deem fit without disclosing their biological sex. Employers cannot ask about applicants’ sex on job applications or pre-employment questionnaires unless this question is based on a permissible defense or asked for recordkeeping purposes.
Second, the workplace cannot segregate transgender employees based on actual or perceived customer preferences. (For example, it would be discriminatory to keep LGBTQ+ employees out of public-facing positions or direct them toward certain stores or geographic areas.)
Third, it is illegal for transgender employees to be denied bathroom access in the gendered bathroom they identify with. (For example, A transgender man cannot be forced to use a woman’s bathroom based on their biological sex.)
Fourth, Employers cannot deny a transgender employee from dressing or presenting consistent with their gender identity. While enforcing uniforms are legal in the workplace, an employer must allow transgender employees to adhere to the uniform policies of their gender identity.
How To File A Discrimination Claim
If a transgender employee has been discriminated against within their workplace, they can file a claim with a state administrative agency, in California, it is the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH)
The steps to filing a claim include:
- Making an account with the DFEH and mailing in an intake form
- Beginning the investigation process
This step entails gathering the specific facts and any records about the incident(s), including the name and contact information of the person or entity you believe harmed you (if known). Obtaining copies of any documents or other evidence related to your complaint and the names and contact information of any witnesses (if known)
The DFEH will then look over all the documents and information to conclude if the employer has illegally discriminated against the employee. If there is reasonable cause, DFEH will notify the parties of this determination and may inform them that the department intends to file a lawsuit in court. Before the lawsuit, a mediation process provides another opportunity to reach an agreement to resolve the dispute. If the case is not settled during this mediation, DFEH may proceed with filing its lawsuit in court.
If the DFEH proceeds with the lawsuit and the court decide that the employer illegally discriminated, available remedies for such discrimination can include:
- Getting the position for which the person was wrongly denied
- Receiving back pay
- Gaining a promotion
- Being reinstated to a job after a wrongful termination
- Receiving front pay
- Receiving reasonable accommodations
- Other remedies that will make the individual whole
How To Make A Workplace More Inclusive
Within the workplace, both employers and employees need to create a safe and inclusive work environment, especially for members of the LGBTQ community. There are numerous ways that a workplace can be inclusive such as providing non-gendered bathrooms and private rooms such as showers, locker rooms, and break rooms.
Additionally, employers and employees should always respect the pronouns of both cisgender and transgender employees. Early on in the hiring or onboarding process, employers should ask the employees what pronouns they go by and use them correctly in all circumstances, even in private conversations. If an employee is transgender, the employer mustn’t disclose this information unless they specifically ask them to.
Lastly, employers should invest in inclusive and extensive sexual harassment discrimination that sets clear boundaries and rules for the entire workplace. This includes training on using correct pronouns and establishing appropriate questions to ask an employee if they are transgender.
Contact Pride Legal
If you or a loved one has experienced employment discrimination, we invite you to contact us at Pride Legal for any further questions. To protect your rights, hire someone who understands them.