Every year for the past seven years, the Maryland State Assembly has considered various measures that would protect transgendered individuals from facing discrimination. The efforts take aim at discrimination in a variety of settings, including work, housing, and public places. A lot of readers probably do not realize that it is legal for employers to fire someone who is transgender on that basis.
When this happens, there is little recourse unless the person can prove that the firing was also motivated by an illegal factor, such as race. However, this year political will seems to be building and popular opinion now supports enacting a transgender rights bill, which would provide protection and recourse for people fired on the basis of being transgender.
The bill before the General Assembly this year has the support of enough members of the assembly that is it expected to pass easily. Many outside groups are also supporting it, including labor unions, educators, and gay and lesbian advocacy groups.
If this bill is passed and signed into law, it could make a big difference for Maryland workplaces. It would require a reassessment of anti-harassment and anti-discrimination policies for employers in order to make sure that they comply with the new requirements. At the same time, employees would need to know their new rights and how to make sure that those rights are not being violated.
In addition to workplace concerns, the bill also addresses issues like being denied credit because one is transgender, or being denied service at a restaurant.
Source: Baltimore Sun, “Advocates in General Assembly push for transgender rights,” Erin Cox, Feb. 4, 2014.