Nevada Law Protecting Gender Identity, Expression Goes Into Effect Saturday

September 26, 2011 - by: HR Hero 4 COMMENTS

A new Nevada law adding gender identity and expression to the list of protected characteristics goes into effect Saturday, October 1. The new law broadly defines gender identity and expression as the “gender-related identity, appearance, expression or behavior of a person, regardless of the person’s assigned sex at birth.”

Details about the new law were covered by Holland & Hart LLP employment law attorneys Anthony L. Hall and Stephan J. Hollandsworth in the August 2011 issue of Nevada Employment Law Letter (see “Gender identity: a new protected category in Nevada”). Dress codes and bathroom options are expected to be among the challenging issues for employers navigating this new territory.

Although 13 other states and the District of Columbia have enacted similar protections, there is very little case law addressing gender identity and expression. Also, there is generally no protection for those categories under federal law. Nevertheless, given the new law’s purpose of protecting people from discrimination, here are some good general rules for Nevada employers to follow:

  • Address situations that do arise in a way that recognizes the employee’s gender identity or expression.
  • Since the new law simply expanded the list of protected categories, handle workplace discrimination based on gender identity or expression the same way you would address, for example, race or religious discrimination.
  • Update your company policies, employee handbooks, and training manuals and classes, among other things, to recognize this new category of protection.
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1 Dan
08:23:19, 30/09/11

Just another case of overreaching government interference in the workplace. Once we open this Pandora’s box regarding protecting “behaviors”, we will continue to see one issue after another associated with personal behaviors that will be on the list for further protection. Forcing employers to re-thnk how to utilize restrooms, re-do dress codes and turn a blind eye to how an employee “expresses thier identity” is nothing short of strong-arm government legislating a new moral code that suits only a small minority of indivduals. If someone wants to dress like the opposite sex, or act like they are of the opposite sex, then they should be free to do so…on thier own time. But in the workplace, employers should have the absolute unfettered right to stipulate thier rules of conduct about proper attire and be able to protect the other employees right NOT to have to be subjected to what they might view as abberrant behavior that they find offensive. Should a very small minority of the population be able to force their view of “normalcy” upon the rest of us in private workplaces? When does the government stop formulating more “protected classes” based on employee behaviors? What’s next,; protections for child molestors, polygamists, sex addicts, drug addicts, golfers, hunters, mountain climbers….? The private workplace has gradually become a government-run public enterprise, stripping employers of the right to run thier business as they deem necessary to remain competitive.

2 Steve Bailey
08:43:32, 30/09/11

We need to treat all people with dignity and respect. Congratulations to Nevada for being on the cutting edge. Much like the federal government finally ending the ridiculous “Don’t ask, Don’t tell” policy, this shows that Nevada (and a few other states) are acknowledging the fact the skill and ability, competence, loyalty and value to the organization don’t always fit into preconcieved traditional notions of people. Maybe it also shows that we are on the way to valuing these qualities and not wasting them because some people don’t like the packages they come in.

3 Tom Allen
10:46:21, 30/09/11

I couldn’t agree with Dan more. How is it that the behavior of a few can cause upheavel for so many ? Does the employer have to create new bathroom facilities for the employee who doesn’t know what gender they wish to follow this week ? Do the female employees have to share with the guy who decided to be a gal ? Indeed, the employer iis being penalized by the government. How long before someone with good common sense says this is enough ?

4 Caidyn
23:26:45, 18/11/12

Dan – while i completely understand where you are coming from, gender identity is a huge thing for those who struggle with it. What has come so naturally to you and the majority of others, is a massive internal struggle for some. This is about the “man” who goes home every night and drinks a liter of vodka to forget about the fact that inside “he” has always felt like “she” but is too afraid to come to terms and embrace the woman that SHE really is fearing that she’ll lose her job or be met with harassment and intimidation. Why should anyone not feel safe and free to be who they really are? Because who they really are doesn’t sit well with others? Because it doesn’t fit the societal norms? Every human being has a right to live out their life as fully and comfortably as they can (provided it doesn’t physically or mentally harm others). Folks who are transgender have just as much talent and skill to offer as the next person – why let a birth defect stop them from sharing? I hate government interference but sometimes it is a necessary evil in order to protect all persons, regardless of who or what they are.

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