Transgender Work Opportunity Act (Senate Bill 396)

A recent communications memo from WPATH about a potential California law targeting unemployment and discrimination:

California Legislature Sends Nation’s First Transgender Rights Training to Governor Brown

SACRAMENTO, CA – Responding to high unemployment among transgender workers, Senator Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) introduced the Transgender Work Opportunity Act (Senate Bill 396). Senate Bill 396 combats discrimination and encourages greater inclusion of transgender Californians in the workforce.

The Transgender Work Opportunity Act will make California the first in the nation to require training about gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation.

Research shows that nearly half (47%) of transgender workers have experienced an adverse job outcome such as being fired, not hired, or denied a promotion; 26% of transgender workers have lost jobs due to their gender identity; and transgender women of color are seven times more likely to be living on very low incomes of less than $10,000 per year.

 “I have heard from too many in our LGBT community that discrimination and lack of knowledge continue to be major obstacles to the inclusion of transgender workers,” said Senator Lara. “If the T in LGBT is going to mean anything we need to make sure transgender workers are fully employed and engaged in our workforce.”

The Transgender Work Opportunity Act amends the existing two-hour sexual harassment training requirement in the Fair Housing and Employment Act to include training on gender identity, gender expression and sexual orientation for supervisory employees at companies with more than 50 employees.

SB 396 will allow workforce development boards to target programs to help transgender workers and to allow appointments to the Workforce Development Board to include those who work with the LGBT community.

SB 396 also requires businesses to post a poster developed by the Department of Fair Employment and Housing on transgender rights.

There are over 220,000 transgender adults in the state of California, according to a 2016 study by the Williams Institute at UCLA.

A recent study said more employer training is an important step to encourage hiring along with state laws to discourage harassment based on gender identity and gender expression.