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What are Workplace Protections for LGBTQ Employees

Whether you’re gay, straight, or someplace in between and you work you’re protected in your workplace from discrimination. As for LGBTQ employees, much advancement has taken place over the decades. For instance, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964; employment discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity is encompassed by the law’s … Continued

Whether you’re gay, straight, or someplace in between and you work you’re protected in your workplace from discrimination.

As for LGBTQ employees, much advancement has taken place over the decades.

For instance, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964; employment discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity is encompassed by the law’s prohibition of employment discrimination based on sex.

According to The Movement Advancement Project, there are 5.4 million LGBTQ workers in the United States, of which almost 2 million are people of color

Beyond the national bathroom issue in recent years, there is a question of how transgender and gender-nonconforming Americans are treated at work. In most states, the law does not protect them from workplace discrimination or harassment. 

NYC

In states like New York, the NYC Commission on Human Rights states: “LGBTQ individuals must be treated equally in the workplace, in housing, and public spaces. It is illegal to harass, name-call, insult, refuse to serve, or intimidate someone because they are LGBTQ. It is also illegal to make discriminatory employment decisions, including passing someone over for opportunities, based on an employee’s LGBTQ status.”

In its brochure its states employees in NYC:

Cannot be told to act or dress “like a woman” or that their behavior isn’t “manly enough.”

It is considered illegal to maintain dress codes, uniform requirements, or grooming standards based on gender.

Transgender and gender non-conforming employees don’t need to show “proof” of gender to exercise their right to be addressed with their preferred pronoun and name or to use the bathroom, locker room, and other single-sex facilities most consistent with their gender identity and/or expression.

It is also illegal for an employer in NYC to discriminate in the provision of employee benefits based on gender or sexual orientation. Employers who offer health benefits to employees’ spouses must offer benefits to same-sex spouses as well as benefits to cover gender transition-related care.

California

In the Golden State, there are rules and regulations in place on how California protects LGBTQ employees from workplace discrimination.

Both the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) and Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act (Title VII) make it illegal for an employer to fire, demote, fail to hire, fail to promote, harass, or otherwise discriminate against you (such as by paying a lower wage or denying benefits that other workers receive) because of your sexual orientation, gender identity, and/or gender expression.

One article posted by the law firm Perona Langer Beck Serbin Harrison, states California, “is one of just 17 states that forbid gender identity discrimination.”

The article also says under California law, “if a workplace has single-occupancy restrooms, they must be available to everyone — regardless of gender identity.” 

Also, in California an employer may not take employment actions against an employee based on gender identity, such as firing, demoting, or denying a promotion due to undergoing a sex reassignment surgery, dressing based on gender identity, or in general due to gender expression, like sporting long hair like a man.

Any of these circumstances could be considered gender identity discrimination, and under California law, could be illegal. 

Additionally, California law accepts gender non-conforming and non-binary identities and says employers must respect all gender identities and expressions.

California and federal law cover an employee’s transgender and transitioning process. The employee has a right to inform an employer about their transition, and the employer cannot discriminate against or mistreat the employee because of undergoing transition.

All employees have the right to safe and appropriate restrooms in California and an employer cannot pressure them as to which restroom to use.

In California, if the building you work has single-stall restrooms, they must be identified as “All Gender,” “Unisex,” “Gender Neutral,” or along those lines.

During an employment interview, an interviewer in California cannot legally ask a job applicant about their sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression — directly or indirectly.

An employer also cannot demand a candidate to disclose gender on a job application or make a person’s gender identity a condition of employment.

As for health insurance, under California law, employer-provided health plans and Medi-Cal must cover medically necessary gender-affirming care like they cover other medically necessary treatments.

Overall, various states are addressing the concerns of all employees from straight, gay, bisexual, and transgender, etc., to make sure all are being treated fairly and equally.

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