Business Type: Law Firm
Location: Dallas, TX
Client Since: 2015
An employee (an attorney) came out as transgender, expressing a desire to live as a woman in all areas of life, including while at work. The employer was unsure how to proceed, and was concerned that other employees would feel uncomfortable, especially if the employee were to use the women’s restroom.
Staff One HR’s Approach
The client was advised to comply with the employee’s request to change her name and present herself as a woman at work, despite concerns that other employees might feel awkward or uneasy. Just as other employees receive new business cards and the company website is updated when a name change takes place (e.g. due to marriage), this employee should receive the same treatment. In addition, diversity training was recommended for all employees of the law firm.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employers from discriminating against employees on the basis of sex, race, color, national origin, and religion. The EEOC, as well as several courts, have agreed that discrimination against an employee because they are transgender or gender non-conforming is sex discrimination under Title VII.
Together, Staff One HR and the law firm worked with the employee to create a timeline of events that would allow for a comfortable transition for the employee. Staff One HR conducted diversity training for all employees of the law firm, and the employer allowed the employee access to the women’s restroom. As a courtesy, the client also provided an alternative restroom for women to use, should they wish to. When the employee began coming to work as a woman, she received an outpouring of support from her coworkers.
While in court after the transition, the employee received negative comments from opposing counsel. Her co-workers immediately stood up for her and ensured that she would not be subjected to harassment by anyone, even those outside of the firm.