The Connecticut General Assembly passed a bill that amends the State’s anti-discrimination law by creating a new protected category – “gender identity and expression.” Governor Dannel Malloy stated that he will sign the bill, which will become effective October 1, 2011. The new law will cover employers with 3 or more employees and will prohibit those employers from making employment decisions based on an individual’s gender identity and expression, just as employers are prohibited from relying upon other protected categories (e.g
., gender or race).
The law includes a lengthy definition of the category “gender identity and expression” that makes clear it includes a person’s gender-related identity, appearance or behavior, whether or not that identity is different from that traditionally associated with the person’s physiology or gender assigned at birth.
This new law does not apply to religious bodies or institutions as they continue to be permitted to establish their own rules regarding gender identity and expression. The bill, however, requires all other private employers to act in the employee’s best interest when making decisions that may affect an employee’s gender identity. For example, employers should allow transgendered employees to use the restroom for the gender they are presenting.
In advance of the bill’s effective date, employers should update existing EEO and anti-harassment policies to include “gender identity and expression” and should train managers, supervisors and staff to ensure they understand the protection afforded by the law.