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Title VII and transgender workplace discrimination

New York employers should be aware that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has stated that workplace discrimination that is based on a person's gender status violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. The agency also said that state laws that are in opposition, such as those passed in North Carolina and Mississippi, cannot be used a defense to claims that are made under Title VII.

In its fact sheet, it noted that employers cannot legally force a transgender employee to use a single-user restroom instead of using the common bathroom that corresponds with their gender, unless such option is made available to all employees. Additionally, the employer is not allowed to require the employee to provide proof of any medical procedures, including surgery.

It was also stated that Title VII protects transgender individuals from harassment that may be caused by confusion or anxiety on behalf of supervisors or co-workers. The EEOC noted that Title VII only addresses workplace conduct and was not meant to cover personal beliefs. Essentially, employers should ensure that their employees can perform their jobs without having to deal with discrimination.

Employees who are facing discrimination due to their gender status or sexual orientation may find it difficult to do their job without fear of harassment or retaliation. This could potentially affect their job performance or cost them their job altogether. As the EEOC has noted, federal law provides protection in these types of situations, and after a review of the situation, an employment law attorney might find it advisable to start the legal process by filing a claim with that federal agency on behalf of the employee.

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