Recent court rulings centered on the rights of transgender workers have changed the playing field related to employer responsibilities vis-à-vis restroom access for all staff.
Summary of Changes
The EEOC ruled in recent cases, that equal access to restrooms is a key part of employment and that transgender employees have rights under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act to not be denied access to gender specific bathrooms. In addition, transgender workers cannot be denied access to restroom facilities because the employee has not had gender-related surgery.
What Does This Mean for the Workplace?
The bottom line is that transgender employees can use restrooms based on the sex that they identify with. As an employer, you will need to take steps to notify all employees of the law. For recommendations on how to manage these changes under the new law including suggestions on bathroom usage, read the OSHA Guide to Restroom Access for Transgender Workers.
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Lawsuits Highlights Issues Employer’s Face
The EEOC has represented several transgender employees in recent months for issues that focused on bathroom access as well as transphobic slurs. These cases have been settled out of court. A review of the cases will give you a sense of the ongoing issues that transgender employees face and what you can do to protect workers.
There are three things that employers can do to protect employees and the company in this new environment:
1. Develop clearly articulated policies that highlight the new law and how the changes affects all employees.
2. Raise the level of education for all staff so that employees are aware of their responsibilities. Education can go a long way towards protecting transgender employees- or any employee against discrimination at work. This includes reinforcing your company’s expectations of all staff as it relates to respecting diversity in the workplace.
3. Be clear that treating any employee with disrespect is a violation of management expectations related to standards of behavior and will not be tolerated. Having a standards of behavior policy if you don’t have one is an important next step.
Take a few minutes to learn more about this topic and what you can do to safeguard your employees and your business:
- Best Practices: A Guide To Restroom Access for Transgender Workers
- EEOC Files Groundbreaking Cases on Behalf of Trans Workers
- Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
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