The EEOC just took a small but “significant” step towards greater inclusion of non-binary people


In a change that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) says would “promote greater equity and inclusion,” non-binary people will now be able to identify themselves as such on admissions documents. voluntary and when filing a complaint of discrimination.

While the new ID option may seem like a minor change to some, especially at a time when a number of anti-LGBTQ+ bills are being considered and in some cases signed into law at the state level, Michelle E Phillips, director of Jackson Lewis PC, thinks that’s important.

Phillips, whose LinkedIn profile cites more than three decades of employment law experience, including gay harassment cases and LGBTQ+ legal issues, told HR Brew that the EEOC’s action would carry weight. because “words matter”.

“What we call people matters, how we misgender people [matters]”, Phillips said. “The way we talk about it is ‘death by 1,000 cuts’ [for] micro-inequalities [or] microaggressions. Thus, the fact that the EEOC takes this step is important and should not be compromised.

What’s new: The agency will offer individuals the option to self-identify with an “X” and “Mx” gender marker. prefix on the admission documents and on his discrimination accusation form.

According to the EEOC announcement, the “X” marker can indicate that an individual’s gender is “unspecified”, offer privacy to those who “prefer not to disclose their gender identity” and promote “clarity and inclusion for those who wish to signify that they do not identify as male or female.

Janine Herring, legal counsel at the EEOC, said the EEOC chose “X” and “Mx.” based on “evidence-based research” and CDC precedent. She added that beyond promoting inclusion, the shift to offering non-binary markers was a step toward cohesion across government, including the State Department, which just added. the “X” option to the passport application form, as well as the 21 states and the district. from Columbia that include the “X” marker as an option for state identifiers.

The EEOC announced the update on March 31, Transgender Visibility Day, a time that Herring said was intentional.

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“As a civil rights agency, we at the EEOC recognize that the binary construction of gender as male or female does not reflect the full range of gender identities,” Herring said.

HR’s takeaway? Phillips views the announcement as part of the EEOC’s concerted efforts to combat discrimination in the workplace. In her day, she noticed a “seismic shift in societal attitudes towards transition issues” and she does not see the “evolution” towards inclusion as complete.

“This is just part of an ongoing effort by the EEOC and other federal agencies to address discrimination in terms of gender identity and sexual orientation,” Phillips said. “So other than the altered form, which may signal a change in accent [in agency priorities]the issue of LGBTQ+ discrimination is a long-standing one [concern] because [Macy v. Dep’t of Justice in] 2012.” (The case determined that “discrimination because an employee does not conform to gender norms or stereotypes is sex discrimination in violation of Title VII” and therefore falls within the jurisdiction of the EEOC.)

Phillips pointed out that while some states require sexual harassment training for private sector workers, she thinks it’s important to make sure training programs also reach out to non-binary employees.

“I don’t think everyone is intuitive on the issue of sexual error,” Phillips said. “For example, in my training programs, I specifically have a storyline around someone who is gender non-binary where they’re gender mismatched… A lot of times what happens when someone’s gender doesn’t is not obvious [is] people will laugh at the person… I’ve heard people say things like, ‘he, she, that—it doesn’t matter what your name is.’ This is not an appropriate response. An appropriate response would be to apologize and [say] I will be more careful and careful in the future to call you in the manner that you identify.—SV

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