The US Department of Labor (DOL) is expected to soon issue formal guidance to make it clear that employment discrimination based on transgender (gender identity) status is prohibited. Two years ago, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission decided in Mary v. Holder that “sex discrimination”, which is prohibited under federal law, includes discrimination against transgender individuals.
The impact the Holder decision might have for transgender employees in federal climates has been less than clear. Federal law does not make the protection of transgender status explicit and case law has been inconsistent. Consequently, US Secretary of Labor Perez recently made the announcement that the DOL is updating enforcement protocols and anti-discrimination guidance to clarify that the DOL provides the full protection of the federal non-discrimination laws to transgender individuals.
The DOL’s announcement coincides with a recent statement from President Obama that he intends to sign two executive orders protecting employees from discrimination in the federal sector. The first will prohibit federal contractors from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. The second will protect transgender federal employees from discrimination.
These changes may not affect your All-On-One labor law poster, but covered employers should review policies and practices and the DOL guidance when it becomes available to ensure employees and applicants are treated fairly.