Understanding Gender Identity Discrimination in the Workplace

Gender identity means the gender with which a person identifies. The law prohibits gender identity discrimination when it comes to any aspect of employment, including hiring, firing, amount of pay, job descriptions, entitlement to promotion, layoffs, provision of training opportunities, eligibility for fringe benefits, and any other term or condition of employment. Gender discrimination is illegal nationwide, and employers should understand gender identity to combat gender discrimination in the workplace

What Does Gender Identity Discrimination Look Like In the Workplace?

It is illegal to allow an employee to be subjected to workplace harassment based on gender identity as it creates a hostile work environment based on the employee’s.  Harassment could include, for example, making offensive or derogatory remarks about an employee’s gender identity.

At times co-workers may make discriminatory remarks about an employee’s gender identity, such as failing to use the employee’s preferred name or pronoun. However, this might not be sufficient for violating Title VII but if done on a regular basis this is created a hostile work environment.

Gender discrimination could also happen in the workplace if an employee identifies his or her gender identity to be a woman /man, but the employer won’t allow the choosing of grooming and dress, using preferred restroom facilities and being referred to by the preferred pronoun that is consistent with a female gender identity.

Title VII favors people being able to access facilities that are consistent with their preferred gender identity. If the employer fails to protect the employee’s rights then it may be violating federal anti discrimination laws.

Protection for Gender Identity Discrimination

Some states like Iowa, Colorado, Oregon and Washington, and cities such as San Francisco and New York City grant those that have a specific gender identity the right to use gender identity-appropriate restrooms in public use areas. Chicago, however, continues to allow businesses to make the decision whether transgender people may access men’s or women’s restrooms based on the gender on their ID, which might or might not accurately reflect the person’s real gender identity.

Some cities, including New York City, West Hollywood, Austin, Texas and Philadelphia, require that single-stall public restrooms be labeled as all-gender. Title VII applies throughout the country and protects employees from discrimination based on their sexual orientation or gender identity regardless of any state or local laws.

At the moment there is only the federal law that protects workers from discrimination generally, but there is no federal statute that prohibits gender identity discrimination specifically. The Equal employment Opportunities Commission (EEOC) has released regulations which state that discrimination against an employee person because of their preferred gender identity or being transgender is discrimination because of their sex and so it is covered under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Title VII includes several protections, such as employers cannot discriminate against persons based on their sexual orientation or gender identity in the following situations:

  • attempting to wear clothing appropriate to your chosen gender identity but you get disciplined, reassigned to a different job or terminated, because you have not conformed to your company’s dress code policy that doesn’t consider employees who choose their gender identity;
  • discriminatory work allocations;
  • denied additional training;
  • be the first to be fired in a reductions in the work force;
  • denied fringe benefits;
  • denied promotion that fits your skill set;
  • denied the same pay, overtime, or other compensation as other employees;
  • not hired due to gender identity;
  • fired when your employer discovers your preferred gender identity;
  • disciplined more often due to your gender identity;
  • demoted when your employer discovers your preferred gender identity.

Discrimination of a person who identifies with a certain gender may include severe and ongoing harassment. It is illegal for an employer to create or put up with such harassment. Additionally, if an employee reports this type of harassment from a customer or client, the employer needs to take steps to prevent it from happening again.

What to Do If You Think You Have Been Discriminated Against Due to Your Gender Identity?

You have the legal right to be protected by your employer due to your preferred gender identity and be treated equally with other employees. If this legal right has been violated and you are subjected to discrimination by your employer you have the right to file a complaint with your employer requesting that the gender identity discrimination is stopped.

Before compiling your complaint letter you should gather all possible evidence to prove your gender identity discrimination including witness statements. You should then do the following:

  • write a formal letter to HR and save a copy for yourself and make sure the letter is distributed to management as well;
  • consider hiring an attorney that can help you to compile your complaint letter and file a complaint by ensuring you include all the relevant information to support your gender identity discrimination.

If your HR and employer ignore your complaint letter, you can then move onto the next step and that is filing your complaint with the EEOC. An agent will be appointed to your case who will check to see if your complaint is valid and try to negotiate a solution with your employer.

If the EEOC fails to resolve the gender identity discrimination, then you may be told you can file a lawsuit against your employer for allowing gender identity discrimination to take place in your workplace. If you win you may be awarded remedies for the suffering you have endured due to the gender identity discrimination.

Gender identity discrimination is never easy to prove but if you believe your federal rights have been violated then fill out a Free Case Evaluation form to get connected with an attorney that takes cases in your area today!

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