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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.

Friday, August 4, 2006

Initial Supervisor Meeting

Previously, I blogged about a four-step mediation process to be initiated upon notice to the organization that an employee is going to transition. Today, I will discuss the second step: the intial supervisor meeting.

Step 2: Meet separately with supervisory management to discuss creation of transition plan and provide information about the Company's guidelines, expectations and resources. This should be scheduled to occur after the initial employee meeting in order to be able to present complete facts to management.

This meeting should take place without the employee present so that the manager(s) can ask questions and express concerns without fear of being embarrassed or upsetting the employee. Because of negative media representations of transgender people, supervisors may have laughably incorrect stereotypes about gender transition. Having the meeting without the employee present will allow you to address those stereotypes up front and correct these misapprehensions. The presentation, during this meeting, of a coherent company policy that addresses the foreseeable issues, also does a great deal to advise the supervisor that the organization is in control of the process, and that their workgroup productivity is not in danger.

It is also important to remind the manager that notes of the meeting, and memos relating thereto, should not be given to secretaries or other personnel until the information is made public. Otherwise, leakage of confidential information is likely, causing an early "coming out" before you are ready to address the issues.

The supervisor may have similar questions to those of the employee: ID, medical leave, facilities usage, customer/client communications, etc. In addition, discussion of site education should also be a part of the meeting. The supervisor may have thoughts about the agenda of upcoming co-worker meetings on the subject, or the credentials of the persons conducting the meetings. He or she may also be interested in managers receiving separate training sessions on handling co-worker responses pursuant to company policy. There may also be a budget for additional educational resources, such as books or videos.

Here is a sample agenda of the items that ought to be covered.

Agenda of meeting with supervisor

  • Present employee's plans regarding gender transition
  • Note need for confidentiality until co-worker meeting
  • Explain basic steps of gender transition
  • Introduce idea of a plan to manage workplace transition successfully
  • Discuss 4 step process
  • Briefly review Company Gender Transition Guidelines
  • Briefly review Draft Transition Plan
  • Leave copies of Guidelines and Plan and request comments on the plan
  • Discuss site education
  • Ask about questions/concerns

The next step is meeting with both the employee in transition and the supervisor, which I will discuss next week.

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