TRANSGENDER RIGHTS IN THE WORKPLACE
As a member of the transgender community, Erika is both proud and fortunate to help others receive the dignity and respect they deserve in the workplace. Fortunately, California has some of the strongest protections in the nation for transgender employees. If you feel you have been discriminated against by your employer because of your gender, gender identity, or gender expression, please call our office for assistance.
EXAMPLES OF UNLAWFUL CONDUCT
Termination, demotion, or other adverse action because you came out as transgender
Harassment and/or unequal treatment during your transition
Intentional or persistent refusal to use proper names or pronouns
Conditioning proper restroom access on you providing "proof" of your transition through medical or court records
Requiring use of a single occupancy restroom, while simultaneously blocking access to available gendered restrooms
Denying you access to the appropriate locker room
For the most part, offering a health insurance plan that excludes transition-related care
Asking previous employers about your transgender status
Forcing you into a sex-segregated assignment that conflicts with your gender identity
Secretly running background inquiries on you after you come out
TIPS FOR YOUR WORKPLACE TRANSITION
If you are preparing to transition at work, then you should reach out to your supervisor, and put together a transition plan, outlining how and when certain changes will occur and be announced (name, email, restroom changes, etc.). The Transgender Law Center has published a sample transition plan as part of their Model Employer Policy, which may serve as a useful starting point for you.
While you may not be required to change your name legally, having a court order often makes your transition run more smoothly, and gives you a greater ability to change HR/payroll records (not to mention other changes outside of work, such as financial accounts). Further, since September 2018, the process to get a court order in California has been simplified. Here are links to some helpful websites on that process:
Overview of legal requirements to update your name and identity documents in California, published by the National Center for Transgender Equality.
More information on the legal requirements to change your name and gender marker on California identity documents, published by the Transgender Law Center.
Detailed steps on changing your name and gender in a California court, including links to the proper Judicial Council forms.
Note that you may be required to provide previously used names on a new job application in order for a background check to be processed. You should answer this question truthfully, even if it means providing your dead name. It may feel uncomfortable to "out" yourself in this way on a job application, but it will likely be revealed in the background check anyway, so it is better to be truthful than to fail the background screen. A perceived dishonesty could result in losing the job opportunity or receiving some kind of penalty.
If you are generally eligible for medical leave under the California Family Rights Act (CFRA), then you may use that leave for transition-related surgeries in the same manner that you could use it for other medically necessary procedures. This may entitle you up to 12 weeks to undergo and recover from top/bottom surgery, and entitle you to reinstatement at the end of that period. While your employer may require medical certification prior to leave, that certification does not need to specify the type of procedure you are undergoing.
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