CHA News Article

FEHC Transgender Regulations Take Effect July 1
Expand existing protections to applicants and employees

The California Fair Employment and Housing Commission’s (FEHC) regulations regarding transgender identity and expression were recently approved by the Office of Administrative Law and will go into effect on July 1.

The new regulations expand existing protections under California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), which currently provides employment protections to people who identify as transgender as well as on the basis of both gender identity and gender expression — regardless of the person’s assigned sex at birth. California law also specifically protects an applicant and employee’s right to appear or dress consistently with his/her gender identity or gender expression.

In addition to re-stating existing protections, the regulations also include the following changes:

  • New rules relating to seeking gender- or sex-related information from applicants and employees — this includes rules prohibiting employers from seeking proof of an individual’s sex, gender, or gender identity or expression (except in very limited circumstances or on a voluntary basis).
  • Rules specifying that employers must honor an employee’s request to be identified by a preferred gender, name or pronoun, including gender-neutral pronouns
  • Expansion of existing gender expression, gender identity and transgender definitions to include “transitioning” employees and specifically prohibit discrimination against transitioning employees and those perceived to be transitioning
  • Revisions to FEHA regulations, using gender-neutral language throughout to advance the objective of preventing discrimination/harassment regardless of a person’s sex

The regulations also cover equal access to restrooms and other similar facilities, including locker rooms, dressing rooms and dormitories. They emphasize that an employee has the right under the FEHA to use a restroom or locker room that corresponds to the employee’s gender identity or expression — regardless of the employee’s assigned sex at birth. The regulations specifically state that employees can’t be “required to undergo, or provide proof of, any medical treatment or procedure, or provide any identity document, to use facilities designated for use by a particular gender.” Under the regulations, employers are permitted to make “a reasonable and confidential inquiry of an employee for the sole purpose of ensuring access to comparable, safe, and adequate multi-user facilities.”

In the interest of employee privacy, the regulations require employers to provide feasible alternatives such as locking toilet stalls, staggered schedules for showering, shower curtains or other feasible methods of ensuring privacy. However, an employer may not require an employee to use a particular facility. 

Finally, similar to a recent law that went into effect on March 1, the regulations address signage for restrooms. Both require all single-user toilet facilities to be identified in a gender neutral fashion such as “Restroom,” “Unisex,” “Gender Neutral” or “All Gender Restroom.”