Rights as a Transgender Person in the Workplace
By: Danielle Smid
It is not always clear what rights you have in the workplace as an employee. This task becomes more challenging when your rights have been a topic of controversy in the media. To provide clarity on this matter, we have provided explanations for the workplace rights transgender people have in Iowa.
The Iowa Civil Rights Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of an individual’s gender identity. “Gender identity” is defined as the gender-related identity of a person, regardless of the person's assigned sex at birth. Employers and employees should be cognizant of the following:
An employer’s questions about sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity can be used to show that an employer intended to discriminate unless the inquiries can be justified by some business purpose. Therefore, an employer should not inquire into an employee’s gender identity because it can be used to show discrimination – which is illegal under both the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Act and the Iowa Civil Rights Act.
If there is a dress code, the dress code requirements cannot discriminate against your sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity.
If there is a restroom policy, such policy cannot discriminate against your sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity. Nor can employees be denied accommodations based on their sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity. Therefore, transgender people cannot be discriminated against when using a restroom that aligns with their gender identity. Furthermore, if a transgender person asked for a restroom accommodation, then they cannot be denied the accommodation based on their gender identity.
It is illegal to engage in unlawful harassment based on an individual’s sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity.
It is illegal for an employer to discriminate against an individual based on gender identity when articulating pay and benefits.
Termination of Employment:
An employer cannot terminate an employee based on their gender identity.
Filing a Complaint:
If you think that you have been subject to discrimination based on your gender identity you may file with the Iowa Civil Rights Commission. Your complaint must be filed within 300 days of the suspected discriminatory practice. To file a complaint with the Iowa Civil Right Commission, click here. If you choose to file a complaint with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Act, your complaint must be filed within 180 days of the suspected discriminatory practice. To learn more about how to file a complaint, click here.
If you have questions about your rights or the rights of your employees, please contact me or one of our BrownWinick employment law attorneys. A special thank you to summer associate Sarah Herz for her assistance in the research and writing of this blog.