This month, Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley is expected to sign the Fairness for All Marylanders Act of 2014 (the Act). The Act prohibits discrimination against transgender individuals in employment, housing, and places of public accommodation.
In the employment context, once the Act is signed and becomes effective on October 1, 2014, Maryland will prohibit discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, age, national origin, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity, genetic information, or disability unrelated in nature and extent so as to reasonably preclude the performance of the employment. The prohibition of discrimination based on gender identity is consistent with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s position that discrimination based on gender identity, change of sex, and/or transgender status is cognizable under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.
Similarly, the Act’s prohibitions apply to all commercial establishments that provide goods or services to people and to the sale or rental of residential housing. All businesses and housing providers in Maryland should develop or update policies and employee training programs about the non-discrimination laws to highlight that gender identity is now protected under Maryland law and may be a focus of new discrimination claims.
Employers should also review their policies and procedures to ensure compliance with the inclusion of gender identity as a protected classification.