July 6, 2016 at 4:10 pm EST | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
Wrong pronouns for trans employees illegal in D.C.
Gender Conference East, trans employees, trans, transgender flag, gay news, Washington Blade

(Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

A publication released last month by the D.C. Office of Human Rights reminds employers that deliberately misusing a transgender employee’s preferred name or gender-related pronoun violates the city’s Human Rights Law.

OHR spokesperson Stephanie Franklin said the publication, “Valuing Transgender Applicants & Employees: A Best Practices Guide for Employers,” was produced jointly by OHR and the National LGBTQ Task Force.

The publication notes that the city’s Human Rights Act of 1977 was amended in 2006 to ban discrimination based on gender identity and expression in the areas of employment, housing, public accommodations and educational institutions. Regulations were subsequently adopted, the publication says, that prohibit workplace harassment or a hostile work environment for trans employees.

“The following behaviors by supervisors or coworkers may be considered unlawful harassment or a hostile work environment,” the publication says:

• Deliberately misusing a person’s preferred name or pronoun;

• Asking personal questions about an individual’s body, gender identity or expression or transition;

• Causing distress to an individual by outing a transgender person against their will;

• Posting offensive pictures or sending offensive communications.

Franklin said that under the Human Rights Act, a transgender employee who believes they are being subjected to discriminatory workplace actions must file a complaint with OHR, which would investigate the complaint. If probable cause is found, OHR sends the complaint to the D.C. Commission on Human Rights, which issues a ruling on whether discrimination occurred.

If found to be at fault, an employer could be required under the law to pay compensatory damages, civil penalties, attorney’s fees, and back pay if an employee was unable to continue to work due to a hostile work environment.

A copy of the publication can be obtained free of charge from OHR at: http://ohr.dc.gov/page/transemployees.

Lou Chibbaro Jr. has reported on the LGBT civil rights movement and the LGBT community for more than 30 years, beginning as a freelance writer and later as a staff reporter and currently as Senior News Reporter for the Washington Blade. He has chronicled LGBT-related developments as they have touched on a wide range of social, religious, and governmental institutions, including the White House, Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, the military, local and national law enforcement agencies and the Catholic Church. Chibbaro has reported on LGBT issues and LGBT participation in local and national elections since 1976. He has covered the AIDS epidemic since it first surfaced in the early 1980s. Follow Lou

1 Comment
  • If this is law, it’s a well kept secret. I’ve never seen these rules posted at any job site. Maybe it should be mandatory that the employer post these violations in a visible place where all employees can see it like notices on minimum wage.

    Discrimination typically starts at the job interview when you are weeded out if they figure it out or assume you are at the interview.

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