Coauthor: David J. Canupp
June is upon us, and with June comes controversial U.S. Supreme Court decisions. This year, that will include a decision on same-sex marriage. At this time of year, it’s always good to prepare your managers for dealing with coffee-break conversations about these controversial employment-related topics. If they become heated, such conversations can cause hurt feelings. Although those hurt feelings are no big deal from an employment perspective, hostile-work-environment allegations can start with a few words about the latest decision. Employers should be careful to monitor such discussions—especially the ones having to do with rights of same-sex couples or transgender employees.
Last month, Lanier Ford attorney Lauren Smith wrote about the EEOC’s federal-sector decisions involving application of the anti-discrimination protections of Title VII to transgender employees. The blog post noted that the federal-sector decision was not binding on private employers, but nonetheless gives important insight into the EEOC’s position on this issue.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced new guidelines on June 1, 2015, for restroom access for transgender workers. The guidelines, which are not official standards or regulations, set out OSHA’s best practices for employers with transgender employees. These best practices include having written policies to ensure that all employees—regardless of gender—have prompt access to appropriate sanitary facilities that correspond with the employee’s gender identity.