Supreme Court’s action on transgender rights keeps employers watching

March 07, 2017 0 COMMENTS

The U.S. Supreme Court’s announcement that it has decided not to hear arguments in a case regarding restroom access for transgender students doesn’t directly affect employment, but it puts employers on notice to keep up with developments that could affect the workplace.

On March 6, the Court announced that it is sending back to a lower court the case of a transgender boy suing a Virginia school district in an effort to be allowed to use the boys’ restroom. The Court had been scheduled to hear arguments in the case later this month. But on February 22, the Trump administration revoked guidelines released by the Obama administration advising public schools to allow transgender students to use the restrooms corresponding to their gender identity.

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Employers advised to stay up to date on legal trends affecting transgender rights

February 23, 2017 0 COMMENTS

The Trump administration’s action rescinding guidance to public schools on restroom policies for transgender students sends a different signal than guidance from federal agencies dealing with employment, but the real message for employers is to stay tuned.

On February 22, the Trump administration revoked Obama administration guidelines that advised public schools to allow transgender students to use restrooms corresponding to their gender identity instead of their gender assigned at birth. The Trump administration’s new guidance now puts the question of restroom access on states and school districts.

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California employers have until March 1 to comply with new restroom law

February 21, 2017 0 COMMENTS

by Michelle Lee Flores and Brett Nicole Taylor

California employers need to be in compliance with the state’s new “all-gender” requirements for single-use restrooms by March 1.

Assembly Bill 1732 requires all single-user toilet facilities in any business establishment, place of public accommodation, or local government agency in California to be identified as an all-gender restroom. Thus, if a California business has a toilet facility with no more than one water closet and one urinal with a lock controlled by the user, signage on the restroom must indicate that it’s an all-gender facility. California’s all-gender restroom law is one of many recent state laws addressing restroom rights for members of the transgender community.

In addition, federal agencies have released guidance on the issue. Under the Obama administration, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission declared that transgender employees are protected against sex-based discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Also, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration published guidance on transgender employees’ restroom access that states that all employees, including transgender employees, should have access to restrooms that correspond to their gender identity.

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Transgender bathroom case makes it to Supreme Court

November 02, 2016 0 COMMENTS

by Rachael L. Loughlin

On October 28, 2016, the Supreme Court granted the request of the School Board of Gloucester County to consider whether the Court should overturn a decision of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. The Fourth Circuit ordered the School Board to allow Gavin Grimm, who was born female but identifies as male, to use the boys’ restroom during his senior year of high school.

By now, most HR professionals are aware of the ongoing debate as to what restrooms should be available to transgender individuals. Though individual cases are popping up all over the country, none has captured public attention like the case of transgender Gloucester High School student, Gavin Grimm. Grimm is being represented by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), and his lawsuit contends that the School Board’s restroom policy requiring students to use the restroom matching their physical gender, is discriminatory and violates Title IX of the federal education code, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex.

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New Massachusetts law to expand transgender protection

July 11, 2016 0 COMMENTS

by Stefanie M. Renaud

Massachusetts law has prohibited discrimination against transgender people in employment and housing since 2011, but a new law taking effect on October 1 will expand transgender protections to places of public accommodation.

On July 8, Governor Charles Baker signed into law a bill that prohibits discrimination against persons because of their gender identity in places of public accommodation.

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NC General Assembly does more than just invalidate Charlotte’s LGBT ordinance

March 24, 2016 0 COMMENTS

by Richard L. Rainey

On Wednesday night, the North Carolina General Assembly passed House Bill (HB) 2, which was then signed by Governor Pat McCrory. While HB 2 was prompted by the desire to overturn Charlotte’s recently enacted ordinance that banned discrimination against LGBT people in the provision of public accommodations and allowed transgender individuals to use the bathroom of their choice, its actual scope is much wider than that. The newly enacted law has the following provisions:

  • The law prevents local governments from imposing any requirement on employers pertaining to the compensation of employees, such as minimum wages, hours of labor, benefits, or leave. This means cities and counties can’t enact “living wage” ordinances or require paid leave, as has been done in other parts of the country.
  • The law prohibits local governments from enacting ordinances that prohibit employment discrimination. Thus, local ordinances prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation or any other factor are not allowed.
  • The law amends the North Carolina Equal Employment Practices Act (NCEEPA) by clarifying that discrimination against a person’s “biological sex” (not just “sex”) is not permitted. Biological sex is defined as the sex that is stated on the person’s birth certificate.
  • The law further states that the NCEEPA, while a statement of public policy, does not create any statutory or common-law private cause of action, and no person may bring any civil action based on it. This provision means that common-law claims for wrongful discharge in violation of public policy, which have become quite common in the area of employment law litigation, can’t be based on the NCEEPA. Of course, pursuing federal discrimination claims is still an available avenue.
  • The law prevents local governments from imposing antidiscrimination ordinances with respect to businesses that are places of public accommodation. This is the provision directly targeted at the Charlotte ordinance.
  • The law provides requirements for school districts and government agencies on the use of restrooms. Essentially, an individual must use the bathroom designated for his or her biological sex.

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Maryland governor signs transgender rights bill

May 15, 2014 0 COMMENTS

by Kevin C. McCormick

Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley has signed a bill that prohibits discrimination against transgender citizens in employment, housing, credit, and public accommodations.

The Fairness for All Marylanders Act, which was passed by the legislature on March 27 and signed into law on May 15, adds “gender identity” to the Maryland laws that prohibit discrimination based on race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, and other characteristics. The law is designed to protect any person who has or is perceived to have a gender identity or expression that may be considered different or inconsistent with his assigned sex at birth, regardless of whether the person self-identifies as transgender.

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