September, 2016

Massachusetts also recently enacted a new law giving individuals the legal right to use restrooms, changing rooms and locker rooms that correspond to their gender identity, regardless of their assigned sex. The law becomes effective October 1, 2016. Although the law applies to “places of public accommodation” (and not workplaces generally), employers that are also places of public accommodation (retailers, hotels and restaurants, for example) must be mindful of this law. Moreover, all employers are prohibited from discriminating against, and are required to provide reasonable accommodations to, employees who are transgender or are going through gender transition medical treatments. When an employee discloses that he or she is going through a gender transition, employers are wise to consult with legal counsel for advice and training regarding this fast-developing area of the law. Many state and federal government agencies have recently issued guidance or fact sheets regarding the legal obligations of employers with respect to this issue.