Gov. Brown Signs the Transgender Work Opportunity Act

On October 15, 2017, Governor Brown signed Senate Bill (SB) 396 into law. The Transgender Work Opportunity Act makes California the first state in the nation to require training about gender identity, gender expression and sexual orientation.

Presently, California employers with 50 or more employees currently must provide two hours of sexual harassment training for supervisors every two years. This legislation expands the subjects that the mandatory supervisor training must include. Beginning on January 1, 2018, the two-hour harassment training must include components on harassment based on gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation. The training must include specific examples of such harassment. This portion of the training must be presented by trainers with knowledge and expertise in these areas.

SB 396 was originally introduced on February 15, 2017 by State Senator Ricardo Lara (Democrat, Bell Gardens, CA). 

“Transgender workers have so much to give to our businesses and economy yet too many struggle with high unemployment because of discrimination and lack of opportunity,” said Senator Lara. “Education is the first step toward inclusion, and the Transgender Work Opportunity Act will help California businesses to open their doors to these valuable workers. I applaud our business trailblazers who are showing the way to hire transgender workers.”

Testimony during the debate and consideration of the bill regarding the struggles transgendered individuals face in the workplace can be found below.

SB 396 also requires employers to display a poster regarding transgender rights prepared by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing. A tentative draft version of that poster can be found here. The Department of Fair Employment and Housing also released final versions of new regulations that provide clarity on transgender rights to workers and employers.