In April, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission announced that it was taking the position that employment discrimination against transgender individuals is a form of sex discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. And according to a recent report by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), some companies are already stepping up to the plate, changing their existing health care plans to include transgender individuals.
The HRC’s annual corporate equality index, which measures how large companies treat lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees, recently reported a significant increase in companies that offer benefits to their transgender employees. In 2011, the report says, 85 companies offered these benefits. This year, however, that number jumped to 207—more than doubling.
For in-house counsel, however, the trend means extra care when drafting the more inclusive health care policies and handling transgender employees. “Even many good, experienced HR professionals need help in this area,” Jackson Lewis Partner Michelle Phillips told InsideCounsel in July. “It is a delicate issue that needs to be handled respectfully. … Often employees ask invasive personal questions or make inappropriate or antagonistic comments about the transgender individual’s personal life or medical procedures.” Phillips warns that such situations could establish a possible hostile work environment.
Read more about employers increasing health benefits for transgender individuals and other company concerns on NPR.