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Transgender employees might be harassed or face discrimination

Employers in California have a lot of different factors to consider when they are trying to ensure that workers aren't being subjected to harassment, discrimination or a hostile work environment. One particularly sensitive issue that employers aren't always aware of is gender equality. That leaves workers who are transgender at an increased risk of suffering from discrimination, harassment or a hostile work environment. In some cases, the worker might be retaliated against or wrongfully terminated.

Gender identity discrimination can occur in several forms. Employers who terminate people who are transgender or people who are planning a transition are often discriminating. Employers who don't allow employees to use the restroom that is appropriate based on their gender identity and those who permit off-color jokes about the transgender employee are also allowing discrimination and sexual harassment to occur.

While there aren't any federal laws that protect transgender employees, there are laws that can pertain to specific situations that might occur. For example, an employer who allows sexually explicit comments geared toward the transgender employee is violating sexual harassment laws. If a transgender employee files a complaint about harassment and is demoted, the employer is violating retaliation laws.

No employee, regardless of his or her gender identity, should be subjected to a hostile work environment. If you are being harassed or discriminated against at work, you should learn about your options for making the behaviors stop. Once you learn your options, you can decide what you want to do. In some cases, you might need to file complaints with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission so you can move on to other legal options.

Source: Workplace Fairness, "Gender Identity Discrimination," accessed Oct. 09, 2015

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