Transgender Discrimination: Update Your Company Policies

By Aditi Mukherji, JD on September 18, 2013 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

A South Dakota woman's transgender discrimination settlement reveals a growing trend toward recognizing transgender discrimination claims as cognizable under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act's sex discrimination prohibition.

The case serves as a strong reminder to companies and their in-house counsel to update their LGBT policies to protect transgender employees from discrimination.

Transgender Discrimination Settlement

Cori McCreery, 29, was fired in 2010 after telling her employer at Don's Valley Market in Rapid City, S.D. that she would be transitioning to a woman. With the help of the EEOC and Lambda Legal, McCreery filed a complaint against the supermarket, alleging a Title VII violation.

In a landmark settlement, McCreery received $50,000, the maximum settlement allowable for businesses with fewer than 100 employees, according to an EEOC statement.

But that's not all. The settlement agreement also requires McCreery's former employer to obtain professional anti-discrimination training annually for all of its employees; implement and distribute an anti-discrimination policy to all employees; report all future complaints of discrimination to the EEOC; and provide the former employee with a letter of apology and a neutral letter of reference.

Update Your Transgender Policy

With cases like this cropping up more often and the passage of federal LGBT protection potentially on the horizon, now would be a good time to revisit your company policy on LGBT-related discrimination.

With brief thanks to the Human Rights Campaign, here are a few tips to make sure your company doesn't discriminate against transgender individuals:

  • Add the term "gender identity" or "gender expression" into the company's HR policies as a protected category,
  • Include a policy that sets forth "gender transition" guidelines,
  • Educate all employees about transgender terms,
  • Put into place a privacy policy that protects the privacy of employees who transitioned before joining the company,
  • Ensure the company's dress code is gender neutral and apply it consistently,
  • Grant restroom and locker room access according to an employee's full-time gender presentation,
  • Remove discriminatory health insurance exclusions,
  • If an employee transitions after joining the company, update his or her personnel records.

All of these measures are just a small step in order to limit your company's liability -- but more importantly, to show employees that your company values workplace equality.

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