Can you be fired for being transgender in California? This guide explains the workplace protections in place for members of the transgender community.
Can You Be Fired for Being Trans in California?
If you’re like many people, you know that the United States has made several changes in the past few years, particularly in respect to transgender rights. However, there’s still more work to be done. One thing you need to know is that it is unlawful for an employer to fire a person for being transgender. Firing someone for being transgender is a form of workplace discrimination, and if it happens to you, you may have legal recourse.
Related: LGBT rights discrimination explained
What Laws Protect Members of the Trans Community in California?
There are federal and state laws against firing a person simply because they are trans. The United States Supreme Court has ruled that any LGBTQ person cannot be discriminated against based on their sexual preference or gender identity.
Federal Laws Against Firing People Who Are Trans
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, commonly called Title VII, protects people from unlawful or wrongful termination based on sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.
Related: Wrongful termination and discrimination
State Laws Against Firing People Who Are Trans
The California Fair Employment and Housing Act, or FEHA, makes it unlawful for an employer to terminate a person based on sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression. Additionally, the Transgender Nondiscrimination Act defines gender identity as it pertains to male, female and nonbinary people.
Related: FEHA FAQ
Can You Sue an Employer if You’re Fired for Being Trans?
You may be able to sue your employer if it fires you for being transgender. However, in order to succeed in this type of lawsuit, you must prove that the reason behind your termination is your transgender status.
Proving Why Your Employer Fired You
If you claim that your employer fired you because you are transgender, the burden of proof lies with you. That means it’s your job to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the reason your employer let you go is that you are trans. That’s a tall order. Your attorney will ask you for any documentation you have that shows your employer discriminated against you because of your gender or gender expression. You’ll also have an in-depth conversation with your lawyer about the circumstances leading up to your termination.
It can be incredibly difficult to prove that the reason your employer fired you is your transgender status. For the most part, employers can fire anyone at any time, for any reason (as long as that reason isn’t illegal), so if your employer has any other reason to fire you, they may bring that up to defend themselves.
However, if you have any type of proof, particularly of any other type of discrimination you have faced because you are transgender, it may help you successfully sue your employer. It’s always in your best interest to keep good records of any discrimination issues you face in the workplace, even if you simply make journal entries documenting Dates, times and what has happened to you.
What if You Face Workplace Harassment for Being Transgender?
Harassment is a form of discrimination. In this context, unlawful harassment occurs when an employer, a supervisor or a coworker subjects a person to a hostile, offensive or intimidating work environment due to the victims gender identity or gender expression. The harassment is unlawful when it is unwelcome and interferes with a person’s ability to do their job.
Let’s Talk About Pronouns
Regardless of whether you legally change your name or gender marker, you have the right to be addressed by your lived name and pronouns. Though people make mistakes, an employer consistently and intentionally refusing to address you by your lived name and pronouns may be engaging in unlawful harassment.
Related: Transgender discrimination in the workplace
Do You Need to Talk to an Attorney About Transgender Discrimination in the Workplace?
If you believe you were fired because you are transgender, or if you have faced discrimination in the workplace for the same reason, we may be able to help you. Call us at 818-230-8380 or fill out the form below to schedule a free consultation with a caring, compassionate attorney who understands federal and state laws that are in place to protect you.