What to Know About Transgender Rights and How It Could Impact Your Business

Posted on December 19, 2017 by Rick Rossignol

Change is the word. It’s at the core of the transgender issue and transgender workplace protections.


Who are we talking about?

Transgender describes those with a gender description different than what their sex defined for them at birth. Law has defined it to mean a…

“…person’s gender-related appearance and behavior whether or not stereotypically associated with the person’s assigned sex at birth.”


What are we talking about?

It’s important to know your state laws and policies related to sex and gender protections. For example, California’s Fair Employment & Housing Act prohibits discrimination based on sex, gender, gender identity, and gender expression.

Discrimination is risky for you as an employer. It could produce a complaint filing or worse a lawsuit.


How to Stay True to Current Law Regarding Transgender Rights and Provide a Non-Discriminatory Work Environment


Keep your questions “safe”

As an employer, you’re limited in what you can and cannot ask an employee or prospective employee. Safe zones include:

  • Work/employment history
  • Personal references

Off-limits questions that cross the line include:

  • Sexual orientation or gender identity
  • Marital status
  • Spouse’s name
  • Household members personal relationship to the employee and to each other
  • Body image or body-related themes
  • Medical or surgical implications

HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) covers many of these, especially medical-related questions. Stay on the safe side by keeping your line of questions focused on work history.


Maintain a workplace appropriate dress and grooming code that fits everyone

Laws, such as California’s, prohibit you as an employer from denying an employee the right to dress according to their gender identity. Be non-imposing in this area if you want to stay safe and avoid push-back.

The only flex here would be attire or grooming that infringes on the person’s ability to do their job safely and effectively.

Restrooms, locker facilities, changing rooms, etc. are to be safe for all. Privacy protection can be assured by providing unisex facilities (e.g. restrooms, etc) with lockable entry points. The usage of a unisex should be at the discretion of the employee.


Change is life. It’s to your advantage to embrace those that affect your business and know how to navigate them without risk.

See this guide for more specific guidelines to protect you and your employees. Contact us about human resources information and guidelines to improve your work environment.



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