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DFEH announces guidelines about transgender rights

The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing recently announced guidelines for employers about the extension of workplace protections to transgendered workers under the state's Fair Employment and Housing Act. Protections under the FEHA were expanded in 2012 to add gender expression and identity as protected statuses.

Employers should not ask applicants about their surgery plans or about their bodies. They also should not ask about their marital statuses or anything about their family members and the relationships they have with each other. The FEHA forbids employers from disallowing employees from dressing in a manner in which they can express their identities, and any dress standards should apply to everyone equally in the workplace.

People are also supposed to be allowed to use whichever bathroom they feel corresponds with their individual gender identities. If employers choose to do so, they may install unisex bathrooms for use by anyone who wishes to have added privacy. The rules apply regardless of whether the transgendered person has had surgery or not.

People who believe that they have been the victim of workplace discrimination based on their gender identity may want to get help from an employment law attorney. They should also follow their company's complaint protocol. If the company does not do anything to correct the problem or if they react by retaliating such as termination or a demotion, an employment law attorney may help the client file a claim with the applicable state and federal agencies. In addition to protection from discrimination, people also have protection from retaliation in the workplace.

Source: National Law Review, "California DFEH announces guidance to employers regarding transgender rights in the workplace," Anne Cherry Barnett, March 1, 2016

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