In early September, the IndyStar ran an excellent article discussing emerging employment rights issues, for which Barada Associates President Will Barada was quoted. It’s a great read, and we hope you will enjoy it. One of the topics discussed was the issue of transgender workers, which we discussed in a previous blog. In case you don’t have the opportunity to read the full article, here is a synopsis of the coverage, which sheds more light on the subject and is very much in line with our own research.
Currently, there are no federal laws with language that specifically protects the transgendered. However, recent EEOC cases under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act are making it clear that the agency views transgender individuals as deserving of protection under the act, which prohibits discrimination based upon sex.
Michael Blickman, an Indianapolis employment lawyer with whom Barada Associates has worked on several issues, pointed out that EEOC actions relating to transgender individuals are now at an all time high. The EEOC filed approximately 200 transgender discrimination cases in 2014, which was a record until this year, when it filed 112 in the first half, alone. The Obama administration has also issued an executive order prohibiting government contractors from discriminating against transgender people.
Furthermore, employers have more to worry about than discrimination against the transgendered. The new protections will also raise issues—and potentially increase financial burdens associated with employment—regarding bathrooms, dress codes and even health insurance coverage for transgender surgery. Yet none of those concerns are grounds for a firm to reject a transgender applicant.
Fortunately for employers, the number of discrimination lawsuits in Indiana so far has been minimal. However, as Barada noted in his commentary, workers rights issues are making it increasingly difficult for employers to “navigate what is becoming a minefield.” That minefield now includes transgender hiring, and employers need to be very careful in their handling of transgender applicants—and employees.
For more information or to discuss an evaluation of your company’s current screening processes, we invite you to give us a call at (765) 932-5917.