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EEOC is Cracking Down on Transgender Harassment
by: Scott I. Unger of Stark & Stark  -  Stark & Stark Newsroom
Monday, January 29, 2024

The United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) is cracking down on the discriminatory treatment of transgender employees. Recently, a New York-based pizzeria agreed to pay $25,000 and agreed to other terms to settle a case brought by the EEOC that alleged that the owner of the restaurant and several staff members told their transgender co-worker “wasn’t a real man,” and asked the employee about his transition and genitalia.

Unfortunately, transgender employees experience high rates of employment discrimination, prompting the EEOC to take action. A recent study found that 48.8% of transgender employees experienced discrimination based on their LGBTQ+ status. The same study found that 43.9% reported not being hired because of their LGBTQ+ status. It also found that a staggering 43.8% of transgender employees reported verbal harassment during the course of their careers.

Employers must take affirmative steps to protect their LGBTQ+ employees and shield themselves from civil liability. Those steps should include:

  1. Creating and implementing policies and procedures prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation,
  2. Including regular (at least yearly) training, which includes all forms of unlawful discrimination, including but not limited to LGBTQ+ discrimination,
  3. Fostering a tolerant and welcoming culture through educational and other events and programs,
  4. Communicating a strong commitment to LGBTQ+ inclusion,
  5. Providing employees a road map to reporting allegedly discriminatory conduct, and
  6. Taking allegations of discrimination seriously and taking effective, remedial steps to ensure that it’s dealt with and does not occur again.
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