Although transgender individuals represent a minority of the American population, studies indicate they are frequent targets of discrimination. Per the National Transgender Discrimination Survey, 26% of transgender individuals have lost a job due to bias and 50% have been harassed on the job.
There is currently no national law that explicitly prohibits discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation. However, existing laws provide real protection in many situations.
As of July 2014, per the advocacy group transequality.org, 18 states (excluding Indiana), plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, as well as more than 200 cities and counties, have gender identification discrimination laws. State and local laws in many jurisdictions also prohibit discrimination based on gender identity or expression, and executive orders in nine states, including Indiana, explicitly prohibit gender identity discrimination in state employment.
At the national level, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits sex discrimination in employment, and both the federal courts and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) have concluded that discrimination because an employee or job applicant is transgender or gender non-conforming constitutes sex discrimination.
Here at Barada, we recommend that employers treat transgender applicants and employees with the same fairness they offer to every other individual. Several national organizations, including transequality.org, are currently working to promote awareness of transgender issues such as discrimination.
With the public efforts of several celebrities to bring attention to the challenges faced by transgender individuals, we recommend employers stay abreast of the situation and speak with their attorneys before taking employment action regarding transgender applicants or personnel. We’ll be talking more—and sharing anything we learn—on this emerging topic in the future.