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Employment protections for transgender workers

There's a lot of news these days about laws designed to restrict the rights of transgender people. These laws place unnecessary and damaging restrictions about who can use what bathroom, and even try to give businesses the right to discriminate.

If you're a trans person living in California, you may wonder: "could this happen to me?"

Thankfully, California law has some of the strongest protections for transgender people in the country. Here's what you need to know about your rights at work.

Gender identity discrimination is illegal

California law explicitly prohibits discrimination on the basis of both gender identity and gender expression. Your employer cannot take any negative action you simply because you are transgender or gender non-conforming. Your employer cannot give you less favorable job duties simply because they think their customers might be uncomfortable working with a trans person.

You do not have to tolerate a hostile work environment

You have a right to feel safe at work. If your coworkers are harassing you or making rude jokes about your being transgender, your employer is required to stop it. Employers who know about harassment but do not stop it are subject to legal penalties.

You get to be addressed by the pronouns you prefer

Your employer and your coworkers have to respect and use the name and pronouns you choose for yourself, both when talking to you and on your official documents. Some inadvertent slip-ups might happen at first, but an outright refusal to recognize your gender identity is discrimination.

You can choose which uniform you wear

Some employers have different uniforms for men and women. Trans people have a right to choose the uniform that best matches your gender identity. This is true regardless of whether you have done any medical transitioning (e.g., with hormones or surgery).

You have a right to a safe restroom

California law allows transgender people to use the restroom that corresponds to their gender identity, regardless of their sex assigned at birth. While you are certainly free to use a single-stall restroom if that is more comfortable for you, your employer cannot force you to in order to keep you out of a gendered bathroom.

What do I do if I'm not being treated fairly?

If you think your rights are being violated, your best option is to consult with a California employment law attorney. The attorney can advise you of your rights and help you understand your options for moving forward. They may even be able to work with your lawyer to help create more trans-friendly workplace policies.

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