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New and proposed laws to end transgender discrimination

California businesses will need to begin complying with new state regulations that help to protect transgender and non-gender conforming employees in the workplace. July 1 marks the beginning of new regulations from the Department of Fair Employment & Housing taking effect.

According to a press release from DFEH, transgender employees must be able to use the restrooms, locker rooms, showers and other facilities that correspond with an employee's gender identity. Employers are reminded that transgender employees often face additional hurdles when finding employment, and this is meant to make everyone feel more comfortable and safe in the workplace.

As theSan Francisco Chronicle reports, some employers are concerned that they do not have the education or resources to properly put the protections for transgender and non-conforming employees into place. With this in mind, state Sen. Ricardo Lara has put forward a bill that would mandate training in the workplace for gender identity and expression. Similar to the current training employees receive about sexual harassment, this proposed workplace education would be put in place to inform employees and to foster an inclusive environment for all employees. California state law has recognized gender expression and gender identity as protected in its antidiscrimination laws since 2011. 

Recent studies show that more than 75 percent of transgender residents of California have been harassed at work. Half of those surveyed were not hired originally because of their gender identity or expression, and a quarter of those surveyed were fired or denied advancement due to their gender identity or expression. Another study showed that a quarter of all transgender Californians was earning less than the national poverty line.

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