THE CHANGING LANDSCAPE OF GENDER IN THE WORKPLACE
Male. Female. Nonbinary. The way we think about gender is changing. Employers need to understand this changing landscape so gender-related issues do not arise in the workplace.
A recent study by the Williams Institute, a part of UCLA Law School, estimated that there are nearly 1.4 million transgender or gender-nonbinary adults in the United States. The same study estimated that roughly 12,700 individuals in Nevada identified themselves as transgender or gender-nonbinary. Not surprisingly, younger adults (aged 18-24) were more likely than older adults to identify as transgender or gender-nonbinary. Further, according to the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey, the largest survey of its kind, 35% of the 27,715 transgender individuals surveyed would prefer not to the assigned a male or female designation.
People who identify as gender-nonbinary may be androgynous or intergender (a gender identity in the middle between male and female or a mix of both); may have a neutral or unrecognized gender identity; may have multiple gender identities; may have a gender identity that varies over time; may have a partial connection to a gender identity; may be intersex (a person born with reproductive anatomy that doesn’t seem to fit the typical definitions of male or female); or may have a culturally specific gender identity that exists only within that culture.
Nationally, one in six transgender or gender-nonbinary individuals reported losing a job because of their gender identity or expression at some point in their lifetime. Nearly 1/3 reported being fired, denied a promotion, or experiencing some other form of mistreatment related to their gender identity or expression within the past year.
What The Law Says
Nevada law protects individuals against employment discrimination on the basis of gender identity or expression. Gender identity is a person’s internal sense of being male or female. Gender expression includes the external personal characteristics an individual exhibits regarding being male or female, such as appearance, clothing, hair, mannerisms and behaviors. Additionally, several federal courts have interpreted Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to prohibit discrimination based on gender identity and expression.
How Employers Should Address Gender
While the law provides certain protections for gender identity and expression, gender—in it’s ever-changing form—is often forgotten when it comes to employee training and company culture. Gender-nonbinary individuals are often mocked, bullied, and physically and/or verbally harassed in the workplace. This often occurs because employers focus on traditional ideas of gender—male and female—without recognizing the full spectrum of gender-nonbinary designations that exist.
Transgender or gender-nonbinary individuals may want to be referred to as he, she, they, or zhe (a gender-neutral pronoun). Once the employee self-identifies as gender-nonbinary, informing their employer of their preferred pronoun and name, it is the responsibility of the employer to honor that request and ensure others within the company respect the gender designation.
Employers should include all aspects of LGBTQ and gender-nonbinary designations in their workplace harassment training and may want to consider reviewing company policies to ensure protections for gender nonconforming individuals is included and expressly stated. Employers should also promptly investigate any complaints of harassment based on gender identity or expression—treating the complaint as any other complaint of harassment.
Nevada Association of Employers (NAE) helps Nevada employers navigate these issues every day through consultation and/or training. Have a gender-related issue? Contact NAE today and let one of our HR professionals assist you with a solution. Not a member of NAE? Join today and gain access to our collection of valuable and time saving resources, including sample policies, and procedures, fact sheets on pertinent areas of the law, unlimited access to our HR hotline, and so much more.
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