KEEP UP WITH THE RULES
- There are two kinds of gender transitions: physical and social. The former involves medical treatments. The other involves name change and pronouns, bathroom usage and activities. The employee does not need to be involved in any particular step in the transition to be protected. Employers need to structure their interview questions to be focused on the job being interviewed for, and avoid questions that inquire about sexual orientation, gender identity, reassignment surgery or transitioning procedures.
- Dress codes and grooming standards should be non-discriminatory. The employer cannot judge the transgender worker more harshly than other employees in terms of compliance. Appropriate restrooms must be provided for all employees. An employee should be allowed to use the locker or restroom that corresponds to his and her gender identity, regardless of the employee’s assigned sex at birth. Employers can provide privacy and options for all employees and where possible, offer the option or a single-user or unisex restroom. However, the use of those bathrooms by transgender or other workers should be optional or voluntary, a matter of choice or preference.
- If there are accommodations that you are asked for by transitioning or transgender employees and are unsure of how to respond, be sure to consult with qualified legal counsel before rejecting or refusing the accommodation. This was a hard lesson experienced by a check printing and financial services company, based in Minnesota. They were fined $115,000 and had to change their practices following an EEOC lawsuit.
Reminder: New Federal Exempt Rules
Smoking Rules Changed by New Legislation
The New Laws:
- Treat the use of e-cigarettes and vaping devices that contain nicotine as“ smoking”–thus extending existing smoking bans to cover such products.
- Expand smoke-free workplace protections by getting rid of most of the existing exemptions that permitted smoking in certain work environments, such as bars, hotel lobbies, warehouse facilities and employer-designated smoking break rooms.
- Expand the workplace smoking ban to include owner-operated businesses.
- Raise the minimum smoking age from 18 to 21, except for active military personnel.
Other legislation passed as part of the package related to tobacco-retailer licensing fees and to expanding tobacco prevention funds to charter schools.
Because these measures were enacted as part of a special session of the legislature, they generally take effect the 91st day after the special session’s adjournment –which was June 9 in this case. An employer’s duty is to provide a safe and healthy work environment so check your employment rules and regulations regarding tobacco use and be in compliance with the expanded laws on smoking effective June 9, 2016.