Easing gender identity shift on job
August 26, 2016
As published in the Albany Times Union on August 25, 2016.
State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s office will adopt a new policy aimed at promoting inclusivity for employees transitioning to a different gender.
“Attracting and retaining top talent starts with creating a workplace that is inclusive and respectful,” said Schneiderman, who is to announce the policy Friday at a LGBT flag-raising event at the State Fair outside Syracuse. “This new policy affirms the basic rights and dignity of all of our office’s employees and will ensure a hospitable environment for our team of outstanding public servants.”
The policy will allow for employees, along with their supervisor and HR staff, to develop a Workplace Transition Plan addressing a number of intra-office changes that will help other employees adapt to their colleague’s new gender identity. That includes considerations for when an employee would want to begin his or her transition at work, including through a name change on office materials, using pronouns that correspond with a different gender, and using bathrooms that correspond with the new gender identity; when time off or leave would be required for medical treatment; and the development of a plan to inform others about the transition.
All employees are protected from various forms of discrimination under the office’s current workplace non-discrimination and anti-harassment policy. The idea new policy is intended to explicitly affirm the right of employees to openly express their gender identity without fear of consequences.
Current policy for state agencies prohibits discriminatory decisions “affecting hiring, promotion, firing or a term, condition or privilege of employment” based on gender identity.
Schneiderman’s announcement comes at a time when broader state policies have become more inclusive of transgender people.
In October 2015, Gov. Andrew Cuomo took action to maneuver around the Legislature as the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act continued to stall in the Republican-held state Senate. An executive order enacted regulations targeted to fight harassment and discrimination in the areas of public and private housing, employment, credit, education and public accommodations.
The governor banned non-essential state-funded travel to North Carolina in March after that state passed legislation that superseded a Charlotte ordinance that allowed transgender people to use the bathrooms that correspond with their identity.
Cuomo and Schneiderman last month filed legal briefs supporting the White House as it has pushed back against the North Carolina law. Obama has also contended with pushback from Texas and 10 other states as they have challenged administration guidelines aimed at ensuring a nondiscriminatory school environment for transgender students.