Welcome! To read each post in full, click on the post title.

This is not legal advice, which can only be given by an attorney admitted to practice law in your jurisdiction after hearing all of the facts and circumstances in a particular case.

Wednesday, May 3, 2006

Resource: HRC's Transgender Issues for Managers [PDF file]

I've previously discussed the transgender resources available at the Human Rights Campaign website generally. Today's title link discusses HRC's downloadable manual designed to assist managers in understanding the issues they may face in implementing protections and workplace policies for transgender employees.

The HRC manual contains sections on terminology (what is "gender identity"?), the business case (why should we protect this group?), policy recommendations (they list 11), and frequently asked questions (like "what is the employer's obligation regarding restrooms?"). It gives some useful suggestions. It is, of course, necessarily somewhat vague regarding the specifics because policy formulation is dependent on organizational culture.

I have a few insider quibbles, of course. For example, it suggests that HIPAA forbids management questions about sex reassignment surgery, which is not correct. HIPAA forbids disclosure of insurance information by a health insurance plan, but it doesn't forbid employers from directly asking an employee. But I forgive them because they're trying to do good and there's a lot of misinformation about transgender legal issues floating around out there.

The most important policy recommendation is found on page 15: "Establish written guidelines regarding process and roles that clarify responsibilities for management and staff." Easier said than done, of course. The manual suggest that the following issues be addressed:

  • Who is the primary point of contact in the company charged with helping a transitioning employee manage his/her workplace transition?
  • What is the general schedule for implementing transition-related workplace changes, such as adjustments to personnel and administrative records?
  • What can a transitioning employee expect from management?
  • What are management's expectations of staff, transitioning employees, and any existing GLBT employee resource group in facilitating a successful workplace transition?

That's a bit general, but then again this is supposed to be a beginner's manual. It's also not bad for a small organization, where the CEO has an office adjoining HR, but a large organization needs more. I have been involved in the creation of such guidelines in large organizations, and you can find an example here. I note that getting input from all involved deparments during the formulation process, such as legal, benefits, and security, is crucial in order to get the info and buy-in necessary to implement successfully.

No comments: