California's FEHA Regulations on Transgender Identity


On July 1, 2017, California introduced new regulations that expand existing protection for workers under California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) for transgender people. The FEHA prohibits discrimination or harassment against individuals based on their membership to any of a number of protected classes. These protected classes include gender, gender identity, and gender expression. Learn more about the new regulations.

Defining Terms

The new regulations seek to clearly define several terms for the sake of clarity. These terms are:

  • Transgender: A person whose gender identity does not align with the sex assigned at birth. They may or may not have a gender expression that matches social expectations of their sex.
  • Gender Expression: A term that refers to the way a person display’s their gender through appearance, clothing, and behavior. These choices may or may not follow stereotypical gender roles.
  • Gender Identity: A person’s internal understanding of their gender, their perception of their gender identity. These can include male, female, nonbinary, or transgender.

Other Changes Made

The new regulations made several changes to FEHA, including:

  • An explanation of the process of transitioning, and what it may or may not involve for transgender individuals.
  • Regulations that make it illegal to deny employment wholly based on an individual’s sex, gender, gender identity, or gender expression, including those who are transitioning.
  • Prohibitions on employers from seeking proof of an individual’s gender, gender identity, gender expression, or sex. This information may be volunteered by the employee.
  • Regulations barring the use of a Bona Fide Occupational Qualification (BFOQ) defense to justify any discrimination because the individual is transgender or gender non-conforming.
  • Regulations that state equal rest breaks must be given to all employees, regardless of gender or sex.
  • Regulations that require employers to allow employees that use the restroom that corresponds to their gender identity or expression, gender-neutral signage, or other accommodations to provide privacy.
  • Regulations prohibiting employers from imposing appearance restrictions that are inconsistent with the employee’s gender identity or expression without business necessity
  • Regulations require employers to abide by an employee’s stated preference in regards to their pronouns, name, and gender.

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