Transgender Discrimination in the California Workplace

In California, employers are not allowed to discriminate against an individual worker based on their gender expression or gender identity. Unfortunately, however, transgender employees often experience illegal discrimination by their employers all too often. When that happens, an employee may be eligible to file a lawsuit against their employer, seeking several types of monetary compensation and damages.

If you believe that you are the victim of transgender discrimination in your California workplace, you have legal options available. A knowledgeable California employment discrimination attorney can meet with you to discuss your circumstances, review your legal options, and, if necessary, file a lawsuit or take other legal action against your employer in a timely manner.

How Are Transgender Individuals Protected from Employment Discrimination?

The term “transgender” refers to an individual whose gender identity is different from their assigned gender at the time of their birth. Pursuant to California’s Gender Nondiscrimination Act and the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), employers may not discriminate against an employee based on their gender expression or gender identity. Specifically, an employer may not commit any of the following acts with regard to gender expression:

  • Discharge or fire an employee
  • Refuse to select an employee for a particular training program
  • Refuse to hire someone
  • Discriminate against an employee in terms of work conditions or compensation

How Do I Know If I Was Discriminated Against Because of My Gender Identity?

In some circumstances, identifying discrimination in the workplace can be a difficult task. In fact, employers sometimes discriminate against others without putting something into writing – or even stating something verbally. Nevertheless, transgender discrimination can still occur implicitly or silently in the workplace. Some common indications of transgender discrimination at work include:

  • Excluding transgender employees from workplace gatherings, including meetings
  • Ridiculing a transgender employee 
  • Failing to acknowledge a transgender employee’s work ideas
  • Failing to label a single-stall restroom as unisex, gender-neutral, or all-gender – or preventing a transgender employee from accessing a safe locker room or bathroom that correlates with their gender identity
  • Retaliating against an employee who reports discrimination against a transgender person in the workplace
  • Allowing instances of sexual harassment to continue unchecked in the workplace
  • Allowing a hostile work environment to continue
  • Failing to offer health insurance coverage that does not include gender-affirming care that’s medically necessary
  • Terminating an individual’s employment when they express a change to their gender identity
  • Failing to take reports or incidents regarding transgender discrimination in a serious manner

Should I File a Gender Discrimination Complaint with the EEOC?

In some cases, it may become necessary to file a gender discrimination complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). An experienced workplace discrimination attorney in California can help you make that determination and, if you are eligible, assist you during the filing process. 

Filing a Complaint with CRD

Generally speaking, before an employee files a complaint or lawsuit against their employer for transgender discrimination, they must first exhaust any administrative remedies that they have. In some situations, they may have to file a complaint with the California Civil Rights Department (CRD), after which they can obtain a right-to-sue notice. In this way, they can avoid waiting for the administrative process to run its course. A pre-complaint inquiry with the CRD must be filed within three years of the last date on which you experienced discrimination, retaliation, or harassment in your workplace. Moreover, you can file this complaint on the CRD’s online website or via phone. 

The Investigation Process

Individuals who file a complaint will likely receive a call from a CRD investigator within 60 days. If the representative decides that a complaint is unacceptable, they will dismiss the matter. After that time, the employee can file a lawsuit in court directly against their employer. If the investigator finds that the pre-complaint inquiry is acceptable, they will prepare a complaint for you to sign, after which time it will go to your employer, as well as the EEOC. The employer will then have the right to respond to the complaint, and the CRD may offer dispute resolution services. If negotiations are unsuccessful, the CRD will open an investigation and determine if the employer violated California law. If a violation occurs, the case will proceed to the CRD Legal Division. If no violation took place, the CRD will close the case, and the employee can immediately take their case to court. 

If the case goes to the CRD’s Legal Division, the parties must engage in mediation with a neutral mediator who helps facilitate settlement discussions. If the parties reach an impasse and do not resolve their disputes, the CRD can file a lawsuit in court on the employee’s behalf against the employer. 

Can My Boss Fire Me for Reporting Transgender Discrimination?

Pursuant to California law, an employer may not retaliate against an employee for opposing discrimination in the workplace – including discrimination against another employee. In fact, if an employer does so, this action amounts to “wrongful termination.” Moreover, if an employee is fired for reporting discrimination, the affected employee can file a formal complaint with the CRD. Alternatively, they can sue their employer in the court system directly for wrongful termination or retaliation. 

Can I Sue My Employer for Transgender Discrimination in California? 

An employee who suffers discrimination by their employer because of their gender identity or sex can file a lawsuit against their employer. However, before pursuing legal action in the California civil court system, they must normally file a complaint with either the EEOC or CRD and obtain a “right to sue” notice.

As part of a lawsuit, you may be eligible to recover various damages, including monetary compensation, various equitable remedies, and punitive damages, if your employer behaved in a particularly egregious manner. 

Contact Us for a Free Consultation

If you experience transgender discrimination in your workplace, you should take legal action right away. Otherwise, you may inadvertently waive your right to recover the monetary compensation you deserve. A transgender discrimination attorney in California can help you take the appropriate legal action and file the necessary claim or lawsuit in your case, helping you pursue the result you deserve.

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