Understanding SB396 – Transgender Work Opportunity Act

SB395 transgender rightsMany progressive Californians continue to push against sex discrimination in the workplace under the protections of Title VII of the 1963 Civil Rights Act and recently enacted Senate Bill (SB) 396, and progress is being made. The 2017 SB396, titled the Transgender Work Opportunity Act, expands sex discrimination protections to include fair employment regarding gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation.

Public and private employers, labor organizations and employment agencies are prohibited from harassing, disciplining, firing, demoting, failing to hire, denying promotion or otherwise discriminating against protected category employee applicants, employees, unpaid interns, volunteers and contractors or retaliating against them when they have asserted their lawful rights. California Government Code § 12940, et seq. SB396 makes harassment based on transgender identification and sexual orientation in workplaces unlawful.

California is the First State to Require Transgender Discrimination Training for Companies with More Than 50 Employees

Our state is the nation’s first to require companies and institutions with 50 or more employees to include transgender discrimination in their mandatory sex discrimination management training. California’s SB396 and 2005 Assembly Bill (AB) 1825 sexual harassment management training requirements are meticulous and clear, and employers who do not comply with this law may be subject to severe fines and monetary consequences.

As a requirement of SB396 and under legislation authored by Senator Ricardo Lara and signed by Governor Jerry Brown, employers are also required to prominently display in an accessible workplace location a poster regarding employees’ transgender rights.

The Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) is California’s civil rights enforcement agency for protection against unlawful discrimination in employment, housing, and public places and will include enforcement of transgender employee rights violations. DFEH defines transgender individuals as people whose gender identity and/or expression differs from their sex assignment at birth or exhibits “non-conforming” sexual orientation. These are protected characteristics under the Fair Employment and Housing Act.

If you believe you’ve been discriminated against because you’re transgender or your sexual orientation is considered non-conforming, you may be entitled to certain damages from an employer if your case is proven. Damages may include monetary losses, job reinstatement, medical benefits, pain and suffering, punitive damages and more.

Filing a Transgender Sexual Discrimination Complaint with the EEOC

While you can file your own sex discrimination complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), such a process can be complicated, time-consuming and confusing. It is often better to file a California Fair Employment & Housing Complaint while being represented by an Attorney and request an immediate right to sue letter. The attorneys at V. James DeSimone Law can help with the process, and if, we accept your case for representation, we will fight vigorously on your behalf in prosecuting your case against your employer. What’s more, we only get paid when we win your case.

If you believe you’ve been harassed or discriminated against by an employer because of your gender identity, gender expression or sexual orientation, the employee attorney team at V. James DeSimone Law will evaluate your circumstances and determine whether an employer may have violated your Title VII rights, California Fair Employment & Housing Act rights, or failed to comply with SB396.

For a respectful evaluation of your case, call 310-693-5561; respond honestly and fully to the questions from our intake team, and we can let you know promptly if we can provide a free consultation at our Marina del Rey office.  

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