Transgender Rights In The Workplace

Posted on: 14 December 2015


The civil rights of transgender individuals are the same as those afforded based on race, ethnicity, national origin, and sexual preference. Harassment or discrimination is illegal, but not always easy to prove if it is not directed toward a transgender individual in an obvious or direct manner.

However, the individual can successfully fight against discrimination in their workplace by carefully documenting specific instances where discrimination or harassment have occurred, including any perpetrators or witnesses that may have been present at each occurrence.

What types of actions constitute harassment in the workplace?

Harassment against transgendered individuals may take the form of direct harassment, but perpetrators are often aware of the ramifications of direct harassment and may use subtler forms. These include jokes about transgendered individuals in popular culture or political or religious statements that express their disapproval of individuals who are transgendered.

However, these offenses cannot be pursued legally until they are reported to superiors and no actions are taken to stop the harassment or institute strict policies against such actions. 

A victim must carefully document the exact day and time that the offenses are reported to management and the supervisor or human resources officer to whom the harassment was reported. The victim must also inquire about the actions that will be taken to end the harassment and determine if the actions were taken and were effective in ending the harassment.

How does workplace discrimination against a transgendered individual occur?

If the victim becomes transgendered while employed, their position and duties must remain the same if their work performance hasn't changed.

This includes serving the same clients that the victim had served before becoming transgendered, and interacting with the public in the same manner as before. The  employee may be hidden from the public and existing clients, and given duties that don't require public interaction.

Access to restroom facilities must be accommodating to reflect the employee's new gender identity, which may require adding facilities or converting some facilities to universal access. Failure to provide such accommodations is a form of discrimination.

Promotions may be given to lower performing or less qualified individuals. 

If either harassment or discrimination occurs, the victim must enlist the services of a civil rights attorney (such as the Law Office of Faye Riva Cohen, P.C.) or employment law attorney. They should be able to provide documented evidence of the offenses that precipitated the complaint, as well as any witnesses to support their claims. 

Transgender rights are a relatively new issue, but are equally as valid as any other type of unequal treatment of individuals in the workplace.