What You Should Know About Workplace Discrimination on the Basis of Gender Identity

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Workplace Discrimination on the Basis of Gender IdentityDiscriminating against someone based on their gender or sex has been prohibited by federal law for decades. However, in 2020, the United States Supreme Court held that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 offered individuals protection from discrimination based on their gender identity. Unfortunately, workplace gender identity discrimination is not as well understood as, say, race-based or age-based discrimination.

In this article, we will discuss the definitions of gender identity and gender identity discrimination. In addition, you will learn about some possible examples of workplace gender identity discrimination and what you can do to preserve your rights.

That said, your best option to learn more about how gender identity discrimination in a workplace is to contact a knowledgeable discrimination employment attorney.

What Is Gender Identity and Gender Identity Discrimination?

To understand workplace gender identity discrimination, we must first understand the difference between gender and gender identity.

Gender identity

A person’s gender (also referred to as sex in federal anti-discrimination law) is a person’s anatomical sex. Their gender identity refers to their belief about what their gender should be.

In many situations, a person’s gender identity aligns with their anatomical sex. However, there are times when a person’s gender identity does not correspond with their anatomical sex. Possible examples of this include:

  • An anatomically male person who identifies more as a woman, or vice versa;
  • A person who is anatomically male or female who identifies as some other nonbinary or third gender; and
  • People who exhibit atypical forms of gender expression, like drag queens or transvestites.

Now let’s look at gender identity discrimination.

Gender identity discrimination

Workplace gender identity discrimination is any kind of different treatment in the work environment that relates to gender identity. This prohibition extends to all aspects of employment, including hiring, firing, pay, work assignments, promotions, and training. It can even include things like work hours, dress code, and leave policies.

In addition, it is illegal to harass someone because of their gender identity. Gender identity harassment includes things like offensive or derogatory remarks about a person’s gender identity, demeaning gestures, and intentionally and repeatedly using a person’s wrong name or pronouns. However, an occasional ignorant joke or a minor, isolated incident may not rise to the level of gender identity harassment. Workplace discrimination lawyers can help you understand the difference between merely annoying behavior and harassment.

Examples of Workplace Gender Identity Discrimination

Gender identity discrimination in the workplace can come in all kinds of shapes and sizes. Here are a few examples:

  • After a person comes out as transgender, their work colleagues subsequently mock, insult, and use derogatory slurs against them;
  • An employer forces its transgender employee to take leave so they can “figure out their problems”;
  • An employer retracts a job offer after learning that a future employee is about to start gender reassignment surgery;
  • A transgender woman is required to use the men’s bathroom because her employere believes that’s what she “actually” is;
  • A male who behaves in an effeminate way is told by his boss that he needs to “toughen up” and “act like a man”; and
  • A female finds out that she is paid less than her colleagues because her employer doesn’t like the fact that she cuts her hair short and wears men’s clothing.

It’s important to remember that your employer can be liable for workplace gender discrimination even if the offender is not your boss. In fact, the offender can be a colleague, an outside contractor, a customer, or a subordinate. Finally, know that gender identity discrimination can be subtle as well as blatant.

Retaliation for Reporting Gender Identity Discrimination in the Workplace

Now that the Supreme Court has concluded that gender identity discrimination is illegal, the law also prohibits any retaliation against those who report gender identity discrimination in the workplace. In other words, you may have a separate retaliation claim against your employer if you are fired for reporting your discriminatory boss or co-worker. Like discrimination, retaliation can come in many shapes and sizes. For example, your boss may decide to start avoiding you after you make a gender identity discrimination complaint. Or maybe your supervisor tells you that you’re simply being “too sensitive” and need to stop complaining about your co-worker’s discriminatory behavior. Or maybe you’re suddenly excluded from certain meetings and group events.

Regardless of the form it takes, retaliation is illegal. If your boss retaliates against you after you make a workplace gender identity discrimination complaint, get in touch with an employment legal matters attorney immediately.

What Should I Do If I Am Experiencing Workplace Gender Identity Discrimination?

Every employee has the right to work in an environment that is free from gender identity discrimination.  If your employee is discriminating against you based on your gender identity, you have the right to report the behavior to your boss, a co-worker, or your human resources department. If you are a union member, you can also reach out to your union representative about the discrimination. You can also file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency responsible for combating workplace discrimination. Finally, you can file a lawsuit against your employer with the help of a dedicated workplace employment legal matters lawyer.

Contact an Award-Winning Workplace Discrimination Attorney Today

Gender identity discrimination can turn your life upside down. On top of embarrassment and shame, suffering from discrimination can induce severe mental and physical effects.

The good news is that you have rights under the law. On top of that, you don’t have to stand alone. If you’ve decided to fight your employer, we’re standing by to help you. Here at Smithey Law Group LLC, we regularly see how much pain workplace discrimination and harassment causes victims. That is why we are so passionate about helping employees protect their rights and receive the compensation they deserve.

Unlike many law firms, our attorneys are deeply familiar with every aspect of employment law. In fact, our lawyers have over 150 years of combined experience fighting for employees. They are also widely recognized as award-winning experts in employment law.

As soon as you set up your initial consultation, we’ll work with you to review your legal options. After that, we will help you defend your rights and hold your employer accountable. Don’t let this opportunity slip by. Call our lawyers today at 410-919-2990 or contact us online.

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Joyce Smithey, a seasoned employment and labor law attorney, has over 22 years of experience representing both employers and employees in Maryland and D.C. Her practice, rooted in a deep understanding of employment law, spans administrative hearings to federal litigation. Joyce's approach is comprehensive, focusing on protecting client interests while ensuring legal compliance. A Harvard graduate, her career began in Fortune 500 companies, transitioning to law after a degree from Boston University School of Law. Joyce's expertise is recognized by numerous awards, including Maryland’s Top 100 Women. At Smithey Law Group LLC, which she founded in 2018, Joyce continues to champion employment rights, drawing on her rich background in law and business.

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