It’s no secret that the EEOC—and even some courts—read Title VII to prohibit discrimination against transgender employees. A growing number of state and city laws also specifically include gender identity and/or expression as protected characteristics. But while employers may understand the legal dangers of firing someone for “coming out” as transgender, the extent of employers’ day-to-day obligations with respect to transgender employees in the workplace is far less clear. For example:
- Are transgender employees entitled to access particular bathrooms or change their company employment records? And, if so, at what point in an employee’s gender transition must an employer accommodate such requests?
- How should employers address negative reactions and attitudes from coworkers?
Two recent EEOC cases provide initial guidance for employers trying to navigate these tricky—and still relatively uncharted—employment law waters.