Transgender Rights – Workplace Protections

transgender rights in the workplaceTransgender rights are human rights. According to Amnesty International, transgender individuals are the recipients of casual discrimination on a daily basis. In fact, they undergo as many as 60 instances of discrimination or harassment every single day. While many of these indiscretions are made without malice, or even unknowingly (such as using a pronoun other than the one the transgender person identifies with), they still take a toll on the transgender community. California lawmakers have taken deliberate steps to provide protections for transgender workers. The goal is to reduce and even eliminate instances of harassment and/or discrimination in the workplace that is based on gender identity, sex, or gender expression. The rights of transgender individuals in the workplace are important to the health and safety of the worker, fellow employees, employers, and the business itself.

Posting the Transgender Rights Poster

All employers with one or more employees must post the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing poster regarding workplace rights for transgender individuals. The poster clarifies any questions employers and their employees may have as to some specific rights for transgender employees.

Parity in Restroom Facilities – Transgender Rights

All employees are entitled to feel safe in restrooms, locker rooms, and similar facilities. Individuals who are transitioning and/or who are transgender have particular protections when it comes to restrooms in the workplace.  

  • California standards ensure that employees are allowed to use the facilities that correspond with their gender identity.  
  • Single-occupancy restrooms must be identified as gender-neutral with signs that label the room as such.
  • It is the choice of the transgender individual whether to use a single-occupancy restroom or a general use restroom that is designated as either male or female. Employers do not have the right to force transgender individuals to use the single use facilities exclusively.

When are Transgender Rights Protections Viable?

The California Fair Employment and Housing Act provides protections from harassment and discrimination for transgender individuals, among others. These protections apply to hiring, wages, opportunities for training and promotions, lay-offs, firing, and retaliation. They protect transgender workers before, during, and after social, legal, and physical transitioning.

Social Transition

Individuals undergoing social transition may not be discriminated against for the issues such as following:

  • Changes in attire;
  • Alterations in hairstyle;
  • Preferences for different pronouns.

Physical Transition

Transgender individuals who undergo hormone therapy and/or surgery may not be discriminated against during or after therapies and treatments that change the physical body of the individual.

Legal Transition

At the culmination of the social and physical transition, transgender individuals may ultimately be required to undergo a legal name change, which may, in turn, result in updates to social security cards, driver’s licenses and other identification, birth certificates, and additional important documents. These changes should not result in workplace penalties. [Read more…]

Transgender Employees Health Plan Discrimination

Transgender EmployeesRobinson v. Dignity Health When does a health plan discriminate against transgender employees? A complaint has been filed against the San Francisco-based company Dignity Health on behalf of one of its employees, a transgender nurse. The complaint alleges that his employer categorically discriminates against transgender employees on the basis of their gender by denying coverage of their health care expenses related to gender dysphoria.

The plaintiff, Josef Robinson, works as a nurse at a medical center in Arizona operated by Dignity Health. Robinson was assigned the sex of female at birth, but identifies as male. He sought coverage through his employee health plan for health care related to gender dysphoria, including hormone therapy treatments and double mastectomy surgery.

However, the Dignity Health Plan denies “treatment, drugs, medicines, services and supplies for, or leading to, sex transformation surgery.” As a result, Robinson has paid out of pocket for his hormone therapy treatments, and his request for pre-authorization for double mastectomy surgery was denied. The denial letter stated that the Dignity Health Plan’s exclusion of expenses related to sex transformation surgery means that all treatments related to the diagnosis of gender dysphoria are excluded. After learning about this denial, Robinson cancelled the surgery.

Allegations of Transgender Employees Discrimination                          

After Robinson was denied coverage, Dignity Health was asked to revise its policies regarding medical expenses related to gender dysphoria. The company responded that it would look into the matter, and later issued a statement expressing that it determined that there was no evidence of discriminatory practice in the health plan. Robinson then filed a charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), alleging that these policies discriminate against transgender employees on the basis of gender. This led to the ACLU filing a complaint against Dignity Health in the U.S. District Court in San Francisco on June 6, 2016.

The ACLU’s complaint argues that denying coverage for health care related to gender dysphoria is a form of gender discrimination in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 because it discriminates based on gender nonconformity. The complaint also argues that the denial of coverage is a violation of the Affordable Care Act, which states that covered entities providing health insurance may not categorically exclude all health services related to gender transition.

In May 2016, a judge in Minnesota dismissed a federal lawsuit filed against an employer by an employee whose teenage son was denied health care coverage related to gender dysphoria. In that case, the complaint was rejected on the grounds that the employee was the wrong defendant because she did not personally suffer discrimination. [Read more…]


The information on this website should not be considered to be legal advice, nor construed to be the formation of any manner of attorney client relationship. Prior to taking any form of legal action, please consult with an attorney experienced in the appropriate area of law germane to your situation. Case results and testimonials presented on or any of its related websites are germane to the facts present for each individual case and is not a promise of similar outcomes for any other cases. This website is not intended to solicit clients for matters outside of the State of California.