The federal law makes it illegal to discriminate in the workplace because of a person's race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information. It is also illegal to discriminate against a person because the person complained about discrimination, filed a charge of discrimination, or participated in an employment discrimination investigation or lawsuit. However, federal law does not protect employees from discrimination based upon sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression. Laws Protecting California Employee from Discrimination or Harassment Based Upon Their Sexual Identity or Sexual Expression are California Law.
The Supreme Court of the United States has recently heard a case concerning the interpretation of the word “sex” in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act if 1964 denying protections for persons because of their sexual orientation. The ruling of this case will not affect California law. Title VII is a federal law, and individual states are allowed to make their own anti-discrimination laws that either have the same protections as Title VII or even stronger protections. Protections for employees in California are stronger in every way from Title VII.
If you identify as a different gender than the one that you were assigned to at birth, Laws Protecting California Employee in almost every aspect of the workplace. An employer cannot ask about or require documentation or proof of an individual's sex, gender, gender identity, or gender expression as a condition of employment. With that said though, an employer may ask about an employee’s sex, gender, gender identity, or gender expression if the employee initiates communication with the employer regarding the employee’s working conditions. If you feel that you are being harassed unlawfully though because of your gender identity or gender expression, make sure to contact an experienced employment law attorney, and also look at our past blog post “What is Sexual Harassment in the Workplace.”
An employer cannot discriminate against an employee who is transitioning or is perceived to be transitioning. “Transitioning” is the process which some transgender people go through in order to fulfill their gender identity and fully express the gender in which they identify as instead of the sex in which they were assigned to at birth. At any time during transition, if an employee requests to be identified with a preferred gender, name, and/or pronoun, the employer must abide by the employee’s stated preference, but an employer may use an employee's gender or legal name as indicated in a government-issued identification document only if it is necessary to meet a legally-mandated obligation.
In addition, an employer must let employees use the bathroom facility of the gender they identify with, “regardless of the employee’s assigned sex at birth.” If an employer has any single-stalled bathroom facilities, then the employer must label these bathroom facilities as “Restroom,” “Unisex,” “Gender Neutral,” “All Gender Restroom,” etc.
If your employer is not granting you your legal rights in the workplace because of your gender identity or your gender expression, you have the right to complain to your employer. If you complain always complain in writing, so there will be evidence you made the complaint. An employer is likely to lie about you making a complaint if it is not in writing. If after you make a complaint about discrimination or harassment based upon you gender identify or gender expression, your employer starts to retaliate against you, you should immediately contact an experienced employment law attorney to advise you of your rights. Before you complain to your employer about any discrimination or harassment, read our blog post Know How to Complain to Protect Yourself rom Unlawful Retaliation and How Laws Protecting California Employee.
In California, employers are prohibited under the Fair Employment and Housing Act from discriminating against an employee in the workplace because of that employee’s gender expression or gender identity. It is illegal in California to discriminate against an employee on the basis of sex, but the term “sex” under the California Code of Regulations now includes a person’s gender identity or expression. So, if you feel as though you have been terminated, harassed, or retaliated against because of your gender identity or gender expression, make sure to call an experienced employment attorney to discuss your rights.
Discrimination can take many shapes. Discrimination can be not hiring or promoting somebody because of their gender identity or gender expression. It can also be terminating or demoting an employee because of their gender identity or gender expression. For more information on how discrimination can manifest itself in the workplace and how it can be proven to have occurred, please see our blog post entitled “How to Prove Unlawful Discrimination.”
The California Code of Regulations differentiates between “gender expression” and “gender identity.” Gender identity is defined as an “internal understanding of their gender, or the perception of a person’s gender identity, which may include male, female, a combination of male and female, neither male nor female, a gender different from the person’s sex assigned at birth, or transgender.” Gender expression on the other hand “means a person’s gender-related appearance or behavior, or the perception of such appearance or behavior, whether or not stereotypically associated with the person’s sex assigned at birth.” It is against California law to discriminate on the terms and conditions of employment on the basis of either gender identity or expression. An employer in California is not even allowed to discriminate against or harass an employee on the basis of wrongly perceiving somebody’s gender expression or identity.
If you feel as though you have been discriminated against in the workplace because of your gender identity or gender expression, then it is time to contact a good employment lawyer about your situation.