While workers have protections against workplace discrimination in Pennsylvania under both state and federal laws, one group of workers is still largely unprotected when they are discriminated against while working or while applying for jobs. Transgender workers have long faced discrimination in both the state and across the nation.
Because of the extent of the problem, Governor Tom Wolf put two orders banning transgender discrimination into action in April. Both are focused specifically on protecting transgender people from discrimination, and one of the executive orders specifically addresses discrimination at work or while applying for a job. Transgender people in Pennsylvania now have protections under state law when they are discriminated against for their gender identities while applying for a position or while working.
In 2011, 90 percent of transgender people who were surveyed reported that they had experienced workplace discrimination. One out of every three minority workers who are transgender as well as black, Latino or Latina make less than $10,000 per year, living in extreme poverty. In a 2014 study, trans people were found to have a 14 percent overall unemployment rate. For black transgender people, the rate was 28 percent.
Transgender people have the same rights to be free from workplace discrimination as do others. Pennsylvania’s new executive orders may help workers who have experienced such discrimination to be able to seek the recovery of damages from the employers who discriminated against them. They might want to consult with employment law attorneys soon after the discriminatory actions occurred. In many cases, there are strict statutory deadlines in place. If a complaint is not filed promptly, the worker may forever lose his or her right to seek recompense through the law. An attorney may assess whether a case is legally supported.