Transgender rights and accommodations have been in the news every day for months. The debate over how transgendered people should be treated in the workplace and in public areas has reached such an uproar that both the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission (EEOC) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) have issued or re-issued guidelines reminding employers how they should treat their transgendered employees.
Most recently, the crux of this public debate has been whether transgendered individuals should use the bathroom or locker room for the gender that matches their biological sex or their gender identity. While the EEOC and OSHA have had rules in place regarding transgender accommodations for years, states like North Carolina have recently brought this issue into the spotlight.
For its part, OSHA addressed transgender rights last year by releasing a “Transgender Restroom Access Guide.” This guide recognizes that access to restrooms is a basic human right, and that employers may be endangering the safety of their workers by creating restrictive restroom policies. OSHA believes that the best way to address the problem of transgender discrimination in San Francisco is to use gender-neutral, or unisex bathroom facilities to avoid problems.
The EEOC has also provided guidance on this issue for many years, but recently released a new “fact sheet” which reiterates the agency’s position. The EEOC believes that transgender discrimination constitutes sex discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and has sued employers who discriminate against transgender employees. In cases where the EEOC has sued employers, courts have found that denying a transgendered employee equal access to a common restroom is a form of discrimination, as is forcing a transgendered employee to use a separate, single-user bathroom.
The law is slowly catching up to America’s changing society. While transgendered individuals still face discrimination from members of the public, employers are learning that they must treat all of their employees with respect and dignity. If you have faced discrimination due to your gender, sex, or other protected characteristic, contact us to speak with a San Francisco discrimination attorney today.
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