California has long been a pioneer of gender rights in the workplace. Since 2011, gender expression and gender identity have been protected classes under California’s anti-discrimination law. And on July 1, 2017, new employment protections for transgender and gender-nonconforming employees took effect in California. The Department of Fair Employment and Housing now enforces regulations which expand protections for gender identity and gender expression in the workplace. According to The National Law Review, the following provisions are now effective:
- Gender identity has been expanded to include those employees who are transitioning. Activities during the transition phase are protected, such as: changes in name or pronoun usage; use of bathroom facilities; and medical procedures associated with a transition (such as hormone therapy or surgeries). Employers may not discriminate against transitioning employees for engaging in any of these activities, or other actions related to the transition.
- Employers may not inquire about, or request documentation about, an employee’s gender, gender expression, or gender identity. Employers can also not request that employees provide such information unless it is on a voluntary basis for record keeping purposes.
- Single-occupancy bathroom facilities under an employer’s control must be labeled with gender neutral terms (such as “unisex”, “gender neutral”, or “all gender restroom”). Employees must be allowed to use the facilities which correspond to their gender identity, not the gender assigned to them at birth.
- Employees must be allowed to carry out job duties which correspond with their gender expression or gender identity – not the gender assigned to them at birth.
The Press-Enterprise also notes that employers cannot impose any standards of grooming, dress, or appearance which are inconsistent with an employee’s gender identity.