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What does it mean to discriminate based on gender identity?

While California has some of the most progressive, employee-focused workplace discrimination laws in the country, discrimination still happens based on a number of factors. One of these factors is a person's gender identity, whether they are transgender, genderqueer, genderfluid, two-spirit or nonbinary. So what does it look like when discrimination based on gender identity happens, how do you recognize it and are you protected against it?

According to the Department of Fair Employment and Housing, employers should not make your gender identity a factor in the workplace at all other than to respect your chosen name, use your proper pronouns and make adequate provisions for utilities such as bathroom use. Employers are not allowed to even inquire into your gender identity or ask leading questions that may offer some insight into your gender identity, such as questions about your relationship or your body. Simply the act of asking is an act of discrimination that violates your privacy by seeking grounds to identify and label you for possible harassment, exclusion or other discrimination.

If employers refuse to acknowledge your chosen name or your proper pronouns, refuse to allow you to dress appropriately for your gender identity in the workplace or refuse you access to bathrooms, locker rooms and other facilities based on your gender identity, then this qualifies as discrimination. California state law protects you against such discrimination, and even invites contact to the Department of Fair Employment and Housing in the event that such behavior occurs.

This has been a post for reference purposes only, and does not stand as a substitute for legal counsel.

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