2nd Quarter 2008  
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New Genetic Information Law Impacts the Workplace
Increased Penalties for Child Labor Violations
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Transgender in the Workplace
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Transgender in the Workplace

On February 12, 2008, the Broward County, Florida Board of County Commissioners voted unanimously to add transgender protections to the county’s anti-discrimination ordinance. The amendment defines gender identity as the appearance, expression or behavior of a person regardless of the individual’s sex at birth. Until now, the ordinance barred bias based on race, color, sex, religion, national origin, disability, age, marital status, political affiliation, sexual orientation and/or familial status in employment, housing and public accommodations.

Transgender is a broad term that refers to people who don't conform to traditional genders. It includes transsexuals - people who change gender through an established process, often using hormone therapy or sex-change surgery - as well as people who have taken on a gender identity that differs from their biological sex. In Broward County, this amendment also bars employers from discriminating against employees who associate with anyone the ordinance protects.

To address any transgender issues in the workplace, Companies may need to explain the situation to other workers, devise a restroom policy and decide how to handle such logistical issues as how to remake ID badges. Typically, transgender people must spend at least a year presenting themselves as their preferred sex before undergoing sex-change surgery.

Nationwide, along with the District of Columbia, 12 states already bar discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity or expression. On the local level, over 90 jurisdictions have enacted similar protections. Recently, there has been a trend for areas with a higher than average population of transgender individuals to adopt this category as another protected class in the workplace.

The Human Rights Campaign has a website with additional information, www.hrc.org/transgender.asp. This site includes a drop down list of all states to enable users to search for laws and legislation specific to any area.

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