Delaware is now the 17th state in addition to the District of Columbia to prohibit discrimination based on gender identity and expression. The Gender Identity Nondiscrimination Act has made gender identity and expression a protected class meaning that employers are explicitly prohibited from discriminating against individuals based on these factors. Senate Bill 97.The law goes into effect immediately.
Specifically, the law defines gender identity as a "gender-related identity, appearance, expression or behavior of a person, regardless of the person's assigned sex at birth". An individual may demonstrate gender identity by consistent and uniform assertion of a particular gender identity or any other evidence that the gender identity is sincerely held as part of a person's core identity. Further, while the law allows employers to require employees to adhere to reasonable workplace appearance, grooming and dress standards, employers are now required to permit employees to appear, groom and dress consistent with their gender identity.
Based on this new law, Delaware employers should update their employment discrimination and harassment policies as well as those regarding recruiting, interviewing and hiring to reflect the new protections accorded to transgender employees and applicants under this law. Employers should also be aware of similar legislation that has been introduced at the federal level.