Lawyer Monthly - April 2022

About Shawn Twing Shawn Twing is a partner at Mullin Hoard and Brown whose expertise rests with matters of labour and employment law, business transactions and agency practice. He is also a writer and speaker on labour and employment issues and hosts a yearly labour and employment seminar at Wayland Baptist University. About Mullin Hoard & Brown Mullin Hoard & Brown is a Texasbased law firm with a national practice, calling upon the expertise of 26 partners located across its Amarillo, Dallas and Lubbock offices. The firm advises individuals and business owners on matters involving labour and employment law, business formation, real property disputes, family law, appeals, contract disputes and many other areas. Shawn D Twing Partner, Mullin Hoard & Brown, LLP 500 S. Taylor, Suite 800, Amarillo National Bank Plaza II, Amarillo, Texas 79101 Tel: +1 806-372-5050 Mobile: +1 806-223-6210 Fax: +1 806-372-5086 E: EXPERT INSIGHT 59 APR 2022 | WWW.LAWYER-MONTHLY.COM chance to be supportive and the company’s response in taking the matter serious and taking constructive steps not only for the individual employee but for the entire workforce. Employers’ dress codes can have a hugely negative impact on transgender employees, with transgender people often expected to wear clothes that do not correlate with their gender identity. In your opinion, what can be done, both legally and socially, to address this particular problem? Legally, the issue is pretty straightforward and can be addressed by revising genderspecific dress code to allow transgender employees to comply with the policy consistent with their transgender status. Employers should also be aware of any harassment that may arise in these situations to prevent an unlawful harassment claim. Employers should revise their workplace harassment policy and procedure to reflect this potential. Dress codes that are enforced for reasons of safety or a company’s branding that apply to everyone are still permissible. What laws would you like to see introduced in the future to better protect transgender rights in the workplace? At this time, I believe the legislation and case law has the issue well covered. The one issue that will have to be sorted out is who exactly is protected by those laws. Legislation that I believe would be helpful is guidance as to who falls within the protected status in order to lessen the inevitable differences in court rulings. Title VII’s prohibition of sex discrimination does not provide anything more than a label without a clear definition as to who will be protected. Can you share an example of when a transgender employee has successfully taken legal action against a discriminatory employer or workplace? A very early case came to me from a client that operated a manufacturing plant. An individual I will call John told the corporate HR department that they were in the process of transitioning from a man to a woman and as part of this transition the employee would wear women’s’ clothing and behave as a woman in the workplace. This company took all the correct steps in my opinion. First, they acknowledged what the employee was reporting and took it seriously, Second, they decided for the employee to have convenient access to facilities. Third they instructed managers to be aware of any harassment such as jokes or ill treatment. To my knowledge, the employee completed transitioning and is still employed by the company. This case arose in the late 1990s and I applauded the employee for coming forward and giving the company a

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