Sex, sex, sex

gender identification

Now that I have your attention, let’s focus in on the real gist of this blog – sexual orientation and gender identity.

So, there is an entire language that employers should be acquainted with on this topic. And, while there is no true case law (as of this writing,) the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) considers each of these as falling under the protected class of “gender.” Which means, we need to ensure that our employees understand our position on the topic. (REGARDLESS of your personal belief on this topic, as an employer you have a DUTY to be respectful of any/all protected classes.)

According to the Human Rights Campaign:

Sexual Orientation

We got this one – having an attraction to the same or opposite sex. (I had a client raise a REALLY interesting point – we should clarify that it’s toward the same or opposite sex so that someone doesn’t think that pedophilia is acceptable.)

Gender Identity

Now we’re getting into areas that are becoming more prevalent and require training on our part as leaders. Gender identity has to do with the psyche or inner beliefs/feelings. How does the INDIVIDUAL see themselves?

Gender Expression

And getting further into understanding – identity is INTERNAL and expression is EXTERNAL – how do they represent themselves outwardly?


This does NOT refer to someone who is transitioning but refers to an identity and expression that are different from their birth sex.


This is when the individual is transitioning from one physical gender to the opposite.

Gender dysphoria

Now, this is actually a condition which means it may be protected by the Americans’ with Disabilities as well as afforded FMLA time (if you have more than 50 employees.) This is if/when their situation causes or creates significant distress for them.

Until we get to “dysphoria,” these are not illnesses or conditions. Frankly, an individual’s orientation, identity or expression really has nothing to do with their ability to do their job. It’s our responsibility as employers to make sure that ALL our employees are treated without regard to anything other than their ability to do the work we have hired them to do.

Have you conducted Unlawful Harassment Training within the past 2 years? While not required by the EEOC, it IS highly recommended. Contact [email protected] to discuss your needs – we have affordable options to meet all your needs.

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