Under An Act Relative to Gender Identity, signed into law by Governor Deval Patrick on November 23, 2011 and effective July 1, 2012, discrimination based on gender identity is now prohibited under Massachusetts state law in employment, insurance, housing, lending, credit and education. Employers may not refuse to hire, discharge or otherwise discriminate against transgender individuals in their compensation and in their terms, conditions, or privileges of employment. Retaliation against an individual for filing a complaint or objecting to prohibited acts of gender identity discrimination is also prohibited.
The state hate crimes law also covers gender identity now, too.
The new law defines gender identity, as "a person's gender-related identity, appearance or behavior whether or not that gender-related identity, appearance or behavior is different from that traditionally associated with the person's physiology or assigned sex at birth." To qualify for protection under the new law, an individual may demonstrate his or her gender-related identity with evidence of medical history, gender-related identity care or treatment, a consistent assertion of their gender-related identity, or other evidence that gender-related identity is part of his or her core identity.
The new law simply codifies what the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD) had already recognized. Previously, transgender individuals could file complaints under the protected category of sex. Now, with the codification of the law, employers may see an increase in transgendered discrimination claims. Employers should be sure that all managers and supervisors are aware of the new law. Applications, handbooks and other employment documents should also reflect that the employer will not tolerate gender identity discrimination or retaliation.
Need representation? Contact Melick & Porter.