Employment Policies: Adding Gender Identity as a Protected Category

Produced by the HRC Foundation

Prohibit discrimination against transgender employees by including "gender identity or expression" or "gender identity" among the list of protected categories in your firm-wide non-discrimination and anti-harassment policies.

Employment policies that delineate protected categories — especially the primary non-discrimination or Equal Employment Opportunity policy — must include the term "gender identity or expression" or "gender identity." Non-discrimination policies should be included in employee handbooks and be easily accessible to employees, suppliers, clients and customers. This can be accomplished by prominently including policies on the business' web site. If applicable, make sure to clearly communicate to your customer-facing employees how your non-discrimination policies apply to customers.

Many employers are changing their Equal Employment Opportunity policies to include gender identity or expression because it makes good business sense to create an inclusive workplace environment — not only for recruiting purposes, but also for internal morale and external relationships with clients and other business partners. It also shows that the employer is taking its diversity initiatives seriously. They are not just talking the talk, but walking the walk. But employers are also changing their EEO policies because they have recognized that state and local governments, and the courts, are providing increasing legal protections to individuals on the basis of gender identity or expression.

John P. Isa, employment attorney, Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker LLP

The Human Rights Campaign reports on news, events and resources of the Human Rights Campaign Foundation that are of interest to the general public and further our common mission to support the LGBTQ+ community.