Bathroom Rights of Transgender Employees
Discrimination can come in many forms and can be based on race, age, religion, and many other factors. In many parts of the country, discrimination has recently increased due to gender identity and, specifically, much attention has been focused in recent months on where people who identify as transgender should use the bathroom. Transgender refers to individuals who were born as one sex though identify as the other sex. For example, if a person was listed as female on their birth certificate but identifies and/or expresses themselves as a male, they would be referred to as a transgender male.
The passage of HB2 in North Carolina has fueled the argument about bathroom rights for individuals who are transgender. HB2 is a state law that requires that individuals use the bathroom of the gender that is listed on their birth certificate–no matter with what gender they identify. This would mean that unless a person has had full sex change surgery and has taken the necessary legal steps to have their birth certificate updated, they would not have the right to use the bathroom of their preference. Compliance with the law can result in someone who appears to be a woman and dresses like a woman (but who has not had surgery) having to use the men’s restroom, and vice versa. You can imagine the complications this may cause.
Many major corporations have spoken out against HB2 and similar laws proposed throughout the country, and there is a lengthy legal battle expected regarding HB2. Fortunately, while these laws seek to limit the rights of transgender individuals in public accommodations, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) seeks to protect transgender individuals in the workplace.
Applying Title VII To Transgender Bathroom Rights
Despite some state legislature’s best efforts, Florida still has no specific law that protects transgender individuals from discrimination at work. However, employers in our state are required to follow all federal employment measures, including the anti-discrimination laws set out and enforced by the EEOC. One such law–Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964–specifically prohibits discrimination based on an employee’s sex. According to the EEOC, sex discrimination also includes discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. This means that Title VII should apply to individuals who identify as transgender.
In one case, the EEOC specifically ruled that:
- Disallowing access to a bathroom corresponding with an employee’s identified gender equals unlawful sex discrimination; and
- An employer cannot require that an employee have surgery in order to use a certain bathroom.
Title VII applies to all government employers at the local, state, and federal level, as well as to any private sector companies that employ at least 15 individuals throughout the country.
Discuss Your Concerns With A Florida Employment Discrimination Lawyer
While EEOC decisions do not have the same weight as federal court decisions, they can still be used to protect the rights of employees in the workplace. If you believe your rights have been violated, please call the law office of Florida employment attorney Robert S. Norell today.