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California employers can't discriminate based on gender identity

California law offers protections against discrimination and harassment in the workplace that the laws of many other states don't. For example, the state's Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) has included protections against harassment and discrimination based on "gender expression" and "gender identity" since 2011.

Those protections have been clarified and become increasingly detailed over the ensuing years. As of the start of this year, businesses with at least 50 employees must include gender expression and gender identity in their training regarding sex discrimination.

Unfortunately, when someone is in the process of transitioning from one gender identity or expression to another, some co-workers and even managers may have a difficult time dealing with it. They may refuse to use the appropriate gender pronouns or call the person by their new name if they've chosen one. Businesses and/or their employees may refuse to let those who are transitioning or have transitioned use the restroom facilities that are appropriate for their new gender identity or expression. Sometimes, managers will continue to mandate that a transgender employee dress as their previous gender.

Certainly, there are times when co-workers and managers may slip up and refer to someone by their previous gender or name. There may also be isolated incidents of insensitivity. However, if harassment is "pervasive," an employee may have cause for legal action. To be pervasive, it must occur with regularity. It must also undermine someone's ability to do their job and/or cause persistent distress.

If you are suffering from workplace discrimination or harassment based on your gender expression or identity, and you haven't been able to resolve the issue by reporting to your company's human resources department or your manager, it's wise to consult with an experienced California workplace discrimination attorney. They can help determine whether you have a viable case and, if so, help you pursue justice.

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