With nearly 17 million viewers, the Caitlyn Jenner Interview April 24, 2015 made it clear that Transgender issues affect everyone in today’s world. However, as Caitlyn explained, transgender people are not always welcomed in today’s society. The National Transgender Discrimination Survey showed that 26% of transgender people surveyed lost a job due to bias, 50% were harassed on the job, 20% were evicted or denied housing, and 78% of transgender students had been harassed or assaulted.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination based on race, color, sex, religion, national origin, age, disability, and genetic information, as well as retaliation for protected activity. The courts and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) have agreed that although Title VII does not explicitly include sexual orientation or gender, sex discrimination includes discrimination because an applicant or employee does not conform to traditional gender stereotypes.

Many state and local laws also explicitly prohibit discrimination in the workplace based on gender identity or expression. Currently, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, Nevada, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, Puerto Rico and over 200 cities and counties have such explicit laws.

Some examples of discrimination or harassment based on sexual orientation or gender include:

  • Refusing to hire a woman who does not dress or talk in a feminine manner.
  • Harassing a man who dresses in an effeminate manner or enjoys a pastime that is associated
  • with women.
  • Denying a job to a female employee who dates women instead of men.
  • Harassing a male employee who plans to marry a man.
  • Firing or harassing an employee who transitions from female to male or male to female.
  • Employees have the right not to be fired or refused a job or promotion because they are transgender. Your employees also have the right to be treated with respect and not be harassed at the workplace or by any coworkers outside of the workplace. Your employees have the right to safe and adequate access to restrooms and other facilities.

As an employer, it is your job to inform all employees of the laws relating to all prohibited discrimination and to take each discrimination complaint seriously. Employers can be held responsible for discrimination claims if it is severe or widespread and the employer does not take steps to stop it.