Massachusetts Law Outlawing Gender Identity Discrimination

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

A supplement to Employment alert: EEOC Holds that Discrimination Against a Transgender Individual Violates Title VII by Michelle Bush

In November 2011, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick signed into law an act expressly outlawing discrimination on the basis of “gender identity.”   Defining “gender identity” as “a person’s gender-related identity, appearance or behavior, whether or not that gender-related identity, appearance or behavior is different from that traditionally associated with the person’s physiology or assigned sex at birth,” the act amended several Massachusetts anti-discrimination statutes to prohibit transgender discrimination in employment, education, housing, and credit.  The act did not amend the Massachusetts public accommodation statute, perhaps in part due to the debate over whether public accommodation operators must allow transgender individuals to use public restrooms of their choosing.  The act’s effective date is July 1, 2012.