MA Transgender Equal Rights Law Becomes Effective July 1st

Employment Attorney Bob SheaBy: Bob Shea

Last November Massachusetts enacted legislation to protect transgender people from discrimination in employment, housing, mortgage loans and credit. The law goes into effect on July 1, 2012.

Entitled “An Act Relative to Gender Identity,” and also referred to as the “Transgender Equal Rights Law,” the law amends the state non-discrimination laws to include “gender identity” as a new protected category. The law covers employers with six or more employees. As with other protected categories, like age, race, gender, religion, disability and sexual orientation, the law prohibits covered employers from discharging, refusing to hire, or otherwise discriminating against transgender individuals with respect to their terms or conditions of employment.

To comply, covered employers should modify their equal employment opportunity and anti-discrimination policies to include prohibitions against gender identity discrimination. Massachusetts requires that employers maintain and distribute sexual harassment policies. For employers who have anti-harassment policies addressing all forms of unlawful harassment (which we recommend), such policies should be modified to include gender identity harassment. Employers should also consider whether the new law will require any changes in the provision and usage of restrooms, locker rooms and other gender-specific facilities.

For questions on this topic, please contact Bob Shea.

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