EEOC fact sheet offers employer guidance on transgender restroom policy

Dive Brief:

  • With media coverage surrounding the so-called "bathroom bill" at full tilt, the EEOC (and the Justice Department as well) recently made it clear to employers that denying an employee use of a restroom based on the employee’s gender identity is sex discrimination in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
  • This recently released information gives employers a look at the policies and practices the EEOC will use to investigate a charge alleging sex discrimination if transgender restroom use issues are involved.
  • According to the fact sheet, the EEOC defines transgender as “people whose gender identity and/or expression is different from the sex assigned to them at birth (e.g. the sex listed on an original birth certificate).” It also makes mention that medical procedures are not required in order for a person to be viewed as transgender.

Dive Insight:

In its fact sheet, the EEOC says that like "all non-discrimination provisions, these protections address conduct in the workplace, not personal beliefs. Thus, these protections do not require any employee to change beliefs. Rather, they seek to ensure appropriate workplace treatment so that all employees may perform their jobs free from discrimination." It also offers two publications, an OSHA guide to restroom access for transgender employees and an OPM guide, to help employers with the issue.

Further, according to the EEOC, “Gender-based stereotypes, perceptions, or comfort level must not interfere with the ability of any employee to work free from discrimination, including harassment.” In addition, addressing conflicting state laws (as in the current case of North Carolina), the EEOC noted that "contrary state law" is no defense under Title VII.

Filed Under: Legal