‘Gender identity’ discrimination claims on the rise

Transsexuals and other employees who identify with a different gender than the one they were born with are beginning to bring job discrimination lawsuits.

While the federal civil rights law that prohibits sex discrimination doesn’t specifically mention “gender identity,” the U.S Equal Employment Opportunity Commission believes that gender identity is covered by the law, and has begun bringing claims against businesses. One company in Minnesota has already paid a settlement in a case brought by the EEOC over its refusal to allow a transgendered worker to use a preferred restroom, and a federal appeals court has ruled that a transgendered individual could sue for wrongful termination.

In addition, some cities and states have passed their own laws protecting transgendered workers, including California, Illinois, New York City, and the District of Columbia.

A number of companies are trying to head off potential problems by proactively conducting a review of their policies including dress codes, restroom use, and calling employees by their preferred name.