GENDER IDENTITY OR EXPRESSION ADDED TO NEVADA'S WORKPLACE NON-DISCRIMINATION LAWS
On Tuesday, May 24, 2011, Governor Brian Sandoval signed into law Assembly Bill 211 which will prohibit employment discrimination on the basis of an individual’s gender identity or expression. This new law has been hailed as a milestone for Nevada’s transgender population. Transgender individuals are those who identify with or express behavior associated with the gender that is opposite to the one given to them at birth.
The new law, which takes effect October 1, 2011, makes Nevada the 14th state in the nation to prohibit workplace discrimination on the basis of gender identity or expression. It applies to employers with 15 or more employees.
Under this new law, gender identity or expression is defined as “gender-related identity, appearance, expression or behavior of a person, regardless of the person’s assigned sex at birth.” Employers will be prohibited from failing to hire, discharging or otherwise discriminating against any person with respect to the terms, conditions and privileges of employment based on gender identity or expression. An aggrieved individual will be able to file a charge of discrimination with the Nevada Equal Rights Commission (NERC).
For those employers who maintain appearance standards and/or dress codes for their employees, it should be noted that the new law specifically recognizes an employer’s reasonable need to enforce employee appearance, grooming and dress standards. Employees are still required to adhere to those standards, with the following exception: “An employer shall allow an employee to appear, groom and dress consistent with the employee’s gender identity or expression.”
As the October 1 effective date draws closer, Nevada employers should review and revise their workplace policies regarding equal employment opportunity, non-discrimination, anti-harassment and non-retaliation to specifically include gender identity or expression with other protected traits such as race, color, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age or disability. EEO training programs for employees should also be updated to address the new prohibitions against discrimination on the basis of gender identity or expression.
This new legislation represents a major advancement in civil rights for transgender individuals within Nevada. To the extent you have questions or issues regarding your compliance obligations with the new law, the attorneys of Kamer Zucker Abbott stand ready to assist you.