It is common for people to have questions about discrimination in the workplace due to things such as their sexual orientation, identity, or expression. If you believe you have been the victim of this type of discrimination or harassment, contact PLBSH at (800) 435-7542 to get help. In the meantime, keep reading to get answers to some of the most common questions.
Is it lawful for my employer to treat me differently because of my sexual orientation?
No, your employer may not terminate you, refuse to hire you, or treat you unfairly because of your sexual orientation or suspected sexual orientation. “Heterosexuality, homosexuality, and bisexuality” are all included in California law’s definition of sexual orientation.
It’s worth noting that while federal law forbids discrimination in companies with 15 or more workers, California law outlaws discrimination in businesses with five or more employees.
Is it lawful for a company to treat me unfairly because of my gender identity?
No, because you are transgender or gender nonconforming, your employer cannot dismiss you, refuse to hire you, or discriminate against you in any manner (including identifying as nonbinary). This covers a person’s status as a transitioning individual.
I believe I am being harassed at work; is this legal?
Harassment is prohibited by law. Harassment occurs when you are subjected to aggressive, insulting, or intimidating conduct by a boss, coworker, or a third-party, such as a customer, because of your sexual orientation or gender identity (or another protected identity such as race, national origin, or disability).
Unwelcome behavior in California is considered harassment if it is 1) insulting, embarrassing, or unpleasant, and 2) makes it difficult for you to execute your job as usual, impacts your emotional well-being at work, or interferes with and undermines your own sense of well-being.
Do I have the right to be addressed by the name and pronouns that reflect my gender identity?
Yes, and your employment records and identity documents (including they/them pronouns) should be updated to reflect that name and pronoun. Your employer may not be able to update your payroll paperwork if you have not yet officially changed your name; nonetheless, the employer must maintain that identity discreet, and your supervisors and coworkers must use your preferred name and pronouns.
Although one honest mistake in addressing you with the incorrect name or pronoun is unlikely to be illegal, if your coworkers, supervisors, or third parties (such as customers) address you with the incorrect name or pronoun on a regular basis, your employer may be liable for unlawful discrimination and/or harassment.
Do I have the right to use the restrooms, locker rooms, and other facilities that match to my gender identity?
Yes. Furthermore, while your business may provide a gender-neutral restroom for employees to use, you cannot be denied the right to use the restroom that best matches your gender identification. Employers should, in theory, always offer a readily accessible gender-neutral toilet for any employee who requests it.
However, if a gender-appropriate toilet is accessible, no employee should be forced to use it. If a facility, such as a company or a government agency, has single-user toilets, they must designate them as “all-gender” or “gender neutral.”
Is it possible to make me follow a dress code?
Yes, the law enables employers to impose reasonable workplace appearance, grooming, and clothing requirements as long as individuals are free to dress according to their gender identification. This means that if your workplace has a clothing code based on gender, it must be enforced according to standards that are acceptable for your gender identification. A transgender woman who dresses as a woman, for example, has the right to follow the gender-specific dress code for women.
These are only some of the questions we often receive. We are standing by to help protect your rights if you are the victim of discrimination due to your sexual orientation, identity, or expression. Contact PLBSH at (800) 435-7542 now for a consultation.