Questions that if you’re a transgender job applicant, you may have

Gavel On Rainbow Flag

Last time, we provided some resources to help transgender students look for jobs once they’ve graduated. Still, if you’re transgender, you know that there will be questions you have either during the interview process or the hiring stage regarding your workplace rights.

For example, right off the bat, you may be wondering whether or not you should include your preferred name on your job application.

According to Jillian T. Weiss, the executive director of Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund, using your birth name on a job application is not a legal necessity.

Weiss does say, however, that if an applicant is asked to provide any previous names that they have gone by, on the application, it is likely that the employer will be initiating a background check. In this case, it may be beneficial to be open and honest about your gender identity as omitting the information may be seen as a misrepresentation of yourself.

Depending on whether or not you wish to receive employee health insurance, once you’ve been hired by a company or organization, know that you will have to specify the gender you wish the insurance company to identify you as.

According to Mary Beth Barritt of the University of Vermont, depending on your specified gender preference, you may be ineligible for insurance coverage for certain gender-specific treatments.

But, don’t worry.

According to HIPAA law, a law that regulates the sharing of health information between individuals and their healthcare providers, a patient’s gender identity cannot be disclosed to an employer without the individual’s consent.

With HIPAA law in mind, you may be wondering whether there are other workplace protections in place for transgender employees. The answer is that… it’s complicated.

Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, an employer cannot discriminate against an employee based on their sex, race, color, national origin and religion. However, Title VII does not explicitly provide legal protections for individuals based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. However, in recent years, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), a federal agency that administers and enforces civil rights laws against workplace discrimination, has fought to expand this protection.

In 2011, the EEOC brought to the 11th Circuit Court United States Court of Appeals a case of a transgender female who alleged unlawful discrimination by her employer, the Georgia General Assembly (GCA).

In her claim, the plaintiff, a transgender female, stated that she had been unfairly terminated from her position at the GCA because she had gone through a gender transition while employed there.

Referencing a Supreme Court decision from 1989, in which, a woman was denied a promotion at work because her supervisor felt that she “did not act as a woman should act”, the Court of Appeals decided that a human being is classified as transgender based on “the perception that his or her behavior transgresses gender stereotypes [and gender-behavioral norms]”. Since, according to the Cornell Law School, The Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, dictates that, “individuals must be treated in the same manner as others in similar conditions and circumstances”, the EEOC concluded the plaintiff was unlawfully terminated.

In recent years, at least two other cases appealed by the EEOC and tried by the Court of Appeals have come to the same conclusion.

First, in 2004, when Jimmie L. Smith had his employment terminated after he “began to express a more feminine appearance [at work]” and notified his employer he would be transitioning from male to female. The second occurred in 2016, when Jennifer Chavez, a transgender female, was immediately terminated from Credit Nation LLC. for, “sleeping on company time”, although; she had had no previous infractions and company policy dictated measures that worked to correct employee behavior before termination was considered.

The EEOC doesn’t just qualify sex discrimination as unlawful termination, though. According to the EEOC’s official website their definition also includes:

The fact remains that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and The Equal Protections Clause are up for interpretation by state governments. Despite this, 92% of “CEI rated employers”, provide gender identity protections for transgender individuals, according to the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index.

Society has a long way to go, to ensure everyone has the opportunity to work regardless race, religion, sexual orientation or gender identity but that doesn’t mean we won’t get there.

References:

Price waterhouse v. hopkins, 490 U.S. 228 (1989)., 1989).

Smith v. city of salem, 378 F.3d 566 (6th cir. 2004), 2004).

Glenn V. brumby 663 F.3d 1312 (11th cir. 2011)., 2011).

Chavez v. credit nation auto sales, LLC., 2016 WL 158820 (11th cir. jan. 14, 2016)., 2016).

Title VII of the civil rights act of 1964. (2017). Retrieved from https://www.eeoc.gov/laws/statutes/titlevii.cfm

Barritt, B. M. (2010). FAQ’s for transgender job seekers. Retrieved from https://www.ou.edu/career/pdfs/FAQtransjobseekers.pdf

Fidas, D., & Cooper, L. (2017). Corporate equality index 2017. (). Washington, D.C.: Human Rights Campaign Foundation.

U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. (2017). What you should know about EEOC and the enforcement protections for LGBT workers (examples of LGBT-related sex discrimination claims).. Retrieved from https://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/newsroom/wysk/enforcement_protections_lgbt_workers.cfm

Weiss, T. J. (4 October 2011). Trans job applications: To name or not to name?. Retrieved from http://bilerico.lgbtqnation.com/2011/10/trans_job_applications_to_name_or_not_to_name.php

 

Job resources for transgender students

 

Equal opportunityResume building, interview preparation and cover letter writing are tough beasts to conquer to secure a job. However, there is a less frequently talked about but far tougher beast to conquer when job searching: workplace discrimination.

Yes, even in 2017 discrimination in the workplace on the basis of race, religion, sexuality, and in the case of today’s blog post, gender identity, is still a prominent issue.

Last year, the rate of unemployment for transgender individuals was triple the rate of the general population—at 15% compared to 7.5% for the general population–according to the National Transgender Discrimination Survey (NTDS).

Of the 27,000 respondents for the NTDS, 27% reported not being hired for a position and 73% reported either being fired, passed up for a promotion or simply being harassed verbally or physically at work.

So obviously, there are still strides to be made. Nevertheless, there are resources available to help place transgender individuals with companies that will make them feel welcome and valued. Here’s a few:

360HR: This is a national job coaching firm that partners with employers to build culturally diverse workforces.

All you have to do is fill out an online application providing where you’re located, your resume, your LinkedIn URL (if you don’t have one you should sign up for one) and whether or not you’re able and willing to relocate for a job and 360HR will help find the right fit for you.

Out for Work (OFW): OFW helps students cultivate and enhance their skills, explore career options, master job search techniques and strategies and research employment opportunities.” Interested applicants can access their job boards for free here.

Out & Equal Workplace Advocates: Like 360HR, Out & Equal works with companies—and government agencies—to provide employers with the proper training to ensure lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees feel welcomed and valued by their employers. Individuals searching for equal opportunity employers can visit the organization’s job board here.

Transgender Employment Program (TEP): The TEP operates out of San Francisco but has regional offices across the United States. They offer career coaching, job search support, leadership training, community networking opportunities and legal aid.

Human Rights Campaign Corporate Equality Index: Every year the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), which provides legal counsel to those that have experienced workplace discrimination, publishes the Corporate Equality Index (CEI), a tool for measuring best equality and inclusion corporate policies and practices.

By evaluating the following criteria the HRC is able to rate employers of Fortune 5000 companies on a percent scale of 0-100—with 0 being the lowest score an employer could receive.

  • Internal Revenue Service 990 tax filings for business foundations’ gifts to anti-LGBT groups
  • Court cases and allegations against the organization concerning discrimination based on sexual orientation and/or gender identity.
  • Reported cases of discrimination based on sexual orientation and/or gender identity reported to the HRC by individuals or unofficial LGBT groups.

To find out which companies received a 100% rating for this year’s CEI visit: http://www.hrc.org/campaigns/corporate-equality-index

References:

James, S. E., Herman, J. L., Rankin, S., Keisling, M., Mottet, L., & Anafi, M. (2016). The Report of the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey. Washington, DC: National Center for Transgender Equality.

925Hire, L. D. (2016). 360HR more than recruiting: Understanding ¦ training ¦ succeeding.. Retrieved from http://360hr.co/

Fidas, D., & Cooper, L. (2017). Corporate equality index 2017. (). Washington, D.C.: Human Rights Campaign Foundation.

Out & Equal Workplace Advocates. (2017). Out & equal workplace advocates. Retrieved from http://outandequal.org/

Out for Work. (2017). Out for work: Be educated. be prepared. be empowered.. Retrieved from http://outforwork.org/jobs/default.asp

Trans Employment Program. (2016). Trans employment program. Retrieved from http://transemploymentprogram.org/