Federal law and New Jersey state law line up on this issue—discrimination based on gender identity in the workplace is unlawful. Gender identity includes one’s status as a transgender individual. It is a protected class under New Jersey and federal law.
You are allowed, by law, to express your gender or transition genders without repercussions from your employer. If they do take action against you as a result of your gender identity or transition, you can pursue a claim, federally or in state, against that employer. Some unlawful conduct resulting from gender discrimination includes declining to hire, denying a promotion, cutting pay, and more.
The New Jersey Law Against Discrimination “prohibits discrimination based on gender identity or expression,” according to the New Jersey Division on Civil Rights (DCR), the agency which enforces the law. You can file a complaint of gender identity discrimination with the DCR, and this must be done “within 180 days after the alleged act of discrimination.” A complaint must be filed in person at a regional office.
Beyond employment decisions, employers cannot compel employees to comply with hygiene standards of their sex assigned at birth, according to state law. “Employees must be permitted to follow the standards that apply to their gender identity,” the DCR says.
Moreover, state law prohibits employers from allowing “workplace harassment based on transgender status, or actual or perceived gender identity or expression.”
Protecting Gender Identity Rights
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) enforces federal law on this matter, and they consider “[Civil Rights Act] Title VII’s prohibition of sex discrimination as forbidding any employment discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation.”
The EEOC also broadly protects transgender rights. “Intentional discrimination against a transgender individual because [of] that person’s gender identity is, by definition, discrimination based on sex and therefore violates Title VII,” the EEOC says. The EEOC holds that an employer must recognize the transition of the transgender person: intentionally misusing a transgender person’s pronouns, misusing their preferred name, or failing to change records regarding their gender transition is “a valid Title VII sex discrimination claim.”
Due to EEOC interpretation and enforcement of Title VII, you can pursue a claim of gender identity discrimination through this federal agency. Since state law prohibiting this discrimination exists, the time limit for filing with the EEOC is extended from 180 to 300 days.
To file with the EEOC, you start at their online portal to submit an inquiry. This is also where you can schedule an intake interview with an EEOC representative. Following an intake interview, you can file a charge of discrimination online or in person at a regional office. Questions asked in the portal will “help determine whether EEOC is the right federal agency to handle your complaint involving employment discrimination,” according to the EEOC.
Another way to file with the EEOC is by sending a letter with the following information, according to the EEOC website:
- Your name, address, email, and telephone number
- The name, address, email, and telephone number of the employer (or employment agency or union) you want to file your charge against
- The number of employees employed there (if known)
- A short description of the actions you believe were discriminatory (for example, you were fired, demoted, harassed)
- When the discriminatory actions took place
- Why you believe you were discriminated against (for example, because of your race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy, gender identity, and sexual orientation), national origin, age (40 or older), disability, genetic information, or retaliation
- Your signature
The EEOC recommends going to the office in person to adequately determine the best route of recourse for your situation.
If you have questions about whether or not your situation falls under the scope of the law, you can call a representative of the EEOC as well. You can also call an employment attorney for a consultation on the matter. The discrimination lawyers at Castronovo & McKinney have helped hundreds of employees protect their rights and seek justice. Call us today for a free consultation.