Nevada’s Republican Governor Brian Sandoval on Tuesday signed legislation to protect trans people from discrimination in the workplace, and, what is more, sources say Sandoval has pledged to sign two other bills protecting trans people in the housing and public accommodations sectors.
The law makes it illegal “to fail to hire or to fire or otherwise discriminate” against transgender people. Only employers with 15 or more employees will be subject to the law.
Nevada is an “at will” state where employers usually do not need to give a reason to hire or fire employees, unless the employee is covered by a labor agreement. But Nevada law also prevents job discrimination based on a person’s color, race, sex, religion, age, disability or national origin. Now “gender identity or expression” is being added to that list.
“He (the governor) did the right thing,” Aizley said. “It will make 20,000 to 25,000 [transgender people] very happy.”
Aizley said the governor also has promised to sign the two other transgender bills, Senate Bill 331 and Senate Bill 368, once they reach his desk, perhaps as early as today. .
Parks, the primary sponsor of the 1999 law that outlawed job discrimination against gays and lesbians, said Nevada has a “proud history” of protecting the personal liberty of all its citizens.
“It is wrong to discriminate against people for characteristics that harm no one else and that are a legitimate expression of their sense of self,” said Parks about AB211. “It is harmful to society to deprive such individuals of the ability to earn a living, find housing, to use stores, restaurants and other facilities and live free of fear.”
Estimates suggest that the unemployment rate among trans people is around two or three times higher than the overall rate, which for the size of the community is highly disproportionate.
Where states have enacted similar laws allowing trans people a legal remedy for discrimination, there have been relatively few complaints. Fourteen states now explicitly outlaw discrimination against trans people. Other states may offer some protection and legal remedy under sex discrimination laws but such cover is often imperfect and is dependent on interpretation of the law.
All of the aforementioned bills add a stipulation that a person cannot be discriminated against on the basis of their perceived or actual gender identity which is defined by the individual regardless of their birth-assigned sex.
Nevada’s workplace anti-discrimination law will come into effect Oct. 1 of this year.
Currently, no federal law banning employment discrimination on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation exists.
A federal trans-inclusive Employment Non Discrimination Act currently sits in Congress. It is not expected to gain traction this year, however.
In the short-term, advocates have pressed President Obama to issue an executive order for LGBT workplace protections which would be a non-permanent and limited measure until ENDA can be moved in Congress. You can read more on the possibility of an executive order here.
For more on ENDA, please click here.