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Workplaces are becoming friendlier to transgender employees

Finding work can be difficult for transgender people in California and around the country. About a quarter of the transgender people polled by the National Center for Transgender Equality in 2015 said that they had been denied work, passed over for promotion or fired because of their gender identity, but more recent research conducted by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation suggests that American workplaces are becoming more tolerant and welcoming to those who do not identify with the genders they were assigned at birth.

According to the nonprofit advocacy group, the number of Fortune 500 companies with policies in place to protect transgender workers from discrimination and harassment has risen to 85 percent. In 2012, only about half of America's biggest companies had such policies. Transgender workers are also more likely to be covered by health plans that pay for hormone therapy or gender reassignment surgery. This kind of coverage was virtually nonexistent in the early 2000s according to the HRCF.

While the federal government has been slow to take action in this area, several states have passed laws to protect transgender employees. In California, employers may not ask questions that are designed to reveal a job applicants gender identity and company dress codes must be enforced in a nondiscriminatory manner. Transgender workers who feel that they have been treated unfairly can file a complaint with the state's Department of Fair Housing and Employment.

Transgender employees who face discrimination in the workplace may also pursue civil remedies, but proving allegations of harassment is sometimes difficult for them. Attorneys could encourage workers who are being treated poorly to keep detailed records of workplace abuses and gather information such as discriminatory emails or company policies. When confronted with this kind of evidence, employers may choose to settle these cases discretely.

Source: The California Department of Fair Housing and Employment, "Transgender Rights in the Workplace", November 2017

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