On July 8, 2016, the Massachusetts House of Representatives passed a bill that prohibits discrimination against transgender persons in public places because of their gender identity. While Massachusetts has prohibited discrimination against transgender people in employment and housing since 2011, this new law will now include all places of public accommodation. The new law will take effect on October 1, 2016.
Under the new law, transgender persons will be allowed to use public bathrooms or locker rooms of their choice. Additionally, the law includes a provision that the Attorney General’s office issue guidance for potential legal action against “any person who asserts gender identity for an improper purpose.” The language appeases critics who fear the “bathroom bill” could be used by predatory men to gain access to women’s bathrooms.
This new law will have implications for employers across the State. All transgender employees must be allowed to use the bathroom or locker room that corresponds with their gender identity in their place of employment. Requiring the use of a unisex bathroom is simply not enough and may violate Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. Furthermore, restaurants, malls, hotels and any public businesses may not refuse services to a transgender person because of their gender identity.
For more information on the new law, visit: http://blog.skoler-abbott.com/2016/07/12/massachusetts-passes-transgender-discrimination-protection-bill/.