New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman has issued policies and guidelines for the Office of the Attorney General designed to promote inclusive behavior and avoid discrimination against employees undergoing gender transitions. The guidelines support existing OAG anti-discrimination policies and are to help employers maintain an “inclusive, respectful and functional workplace for all.” New York gender discrimination attorneys at Leeds Brown recognize the significant impact the guidelines may have on other businesses as they formulate plans to address evolving transgender issues.
The rights of transgender individuals have come under scrutiny recently as more and more Americans are becoming aware of their plight. Gary Gates, a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT) demographer at the UCLA School Of Law’s Williams Institute approximates that there are 700,000 individuals in the US who identify as transgender. A 2008 survey conducted by Injustice at Every Turn showed that transgender individuals were unemployed at two times the rate of the general population and were more likely to live in poverty. The same survey showed that “25 percent of transgender recipients reported losing a job because they did not conform to gender norms. A staggering 90 percent said they faced some form of transgender-based discrimination.”
Existing policy for New York state agencies such as the OAG prohibits discrimination and harassment based on many protected categories including gender identity. An employer may not make a discriminatory decision affecting things such as hiring, firing, promotion or any term or condition of employment. AG Schneiderman stated that the new policy “affirms the basic rights and dignity of all of our office’s employees and will ensure a hospitable environment for our team of outstanding public servants.”
The guidelines address some of the areas where conflicts and confusion are likely to arise when a person at work begins a gender transition. The aim is to create a collaborative environment in the workplace whereby the transitioning employee informs his or her employer, and they work together to form a support team and map out a plan to ease the workplace transition. The guidelines suggest that the plan includes things such as:
Perhaps most important is the guidance for managers and supervisors about the rights of the transitioning employee. The policy addresses the employer’s obligations regarding such issues as:
The guidelines for the OAG have a limited scope – they only apply to the people in that particular office. No other employer is obligated to read them or follow them. However, as stated by M. Dru Levasseur, Director of the Transgender Rights Project at Lambda Legal, “These policies not only clarify existing legal protections but also set a standard of respect and provide a model for the rest of the country.” The policies are designed to allow transgender individuals to express their identity without fear of repercussions or discrimination. Establishing an open and collaborative environment should go a long way toward reaching that goal.
The lawyers at Leeds Brown are available to help if you are experiencing workplace discrimination of any kind. If your co-workers are harassing you, or your supervisor is stifling your career path because of your gender, gender identity or expression, contact Leeds Brown for a free consultation.
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