November 3, 2016

When an employee requires accommodation in relation to gender identity or gender expression, the process can be challenging for the employer, the union, and especially the employee. This audio conference will explore best practices for creating an inclusive, accommodating environment, and dealing with trans-specific issues such as washroom accessibility, training, and reluctant co-workers. Topics to be addressed include:

  • Understanding gender identity and gender expression: What is gender identity? What is gender expression? How do they differ? What stereotypes have typically or traditionally been faced by individuals who are transgender, transsexual, or gender non-conforming? What other forms of discrimination are commonly faced by individuals because of their gender identity or gender expression?
  • Seeking legal protection against discrimination and harassment: Which jurisdictions have enacted laws specifically prohibiting discrimination and harassment on the basis of gender identity and gender expression? What protections do these laws provide? Does this vary based on jurisdiction? In jurisdictions that lack a specific prohibition against discrimination and harassment on the basis of gender identity or gender expression, do prohibitions on grounds of gender and/or sex provide the same level of protection? Have such prohibitions against discrimination based on sex or gender been effective in protecting transgender people in the past?
  • Implementing accommodation: What type of information is required to trigger the need for accommodation? What unique privacy and confidentiality concerns arise for individuals seeking accommodation based on gender identity or gender expression, and how can they be addressed? What types of workplace accommodations are necessary/appropriate where an employee is facing discrimination based on gender identity or gender expression? What role should the union play in ensuring that necessary accommodations are made? In what circumstances, if any, might accommodation be considered to amount to undue hardship? What factors can be considered in assessing undue hardship? Employee morale? What about the religious or cultural beliefs of other employees? Are there any bona fide occupational qualifications which might justify an exception to the duty to accommodate transgender individuals? If so, under what circumstances could these apply?
  • Adopting best practices for inclusion: How can organizations design or change their rules, practices, and facilities to avoid negative effects on transgender people? What policies and practices should be examined to determine whether they have a negative impact on employees based on gender identity or gender expression? Dress code or appearance policies? Washroom and change room access? Violence and harassment policies? Confidentiality and privacy policies? Policies relating to the collection of personal employee information? What training or educational programs can be implemented in the workplace to promote understanding and awareness about transgender people and their rights?