Our employee manuals play an important role in shaping our workplace culture, communicating our values, and keeping our employees safe. They are a key tool in preventing and opposing discrimination in our organizations.

While the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and other state and federal regulations can provide an important framework for these manuals, we also encourage organizations to create manuals with inclusive policies and protections for transgender and non-binary employees that are not beholden to changing state laws or political sentiment.

Sample Employee Manual

We [organization name] are committed to creating an environment in which all individuals are treated with respect and dignity. Each individual has the right to work in a professional atmosphere that promotes equal employment opportunities and prohibits discriminatory practices, including harassment.

We [organization name] prohibit harassment of or discrimination against any person because of race, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, pregnancy, ethnicity or national origin, religion, age, disability, or veteran status.

This policy sets forth guidelines to prevent harassment and discrimination in the workplace. However, this policy does not anticipate every situation that might occur and specific incidents must be assessed on a case-by-case basis. In all cases, the goal is to ensure the safety, comfort, and healthy development of all employees while maximizing each employee’s workplace integration and minimizing stigmatization.

Harassment includes, but is not limited to:

  • Bullying, intimidation, stalking, or threats in person or online.
  • The use of epithets, slurs, or negative stereotyping.
  • Sustained disruption of events.
  • Violence or assault of any kind.
  • Inappropriate or unwanted physical contact.
  • Physical intimidation or blocking.
  • Unwelcome sexual attention, innuendo, or joking.
  • Non-consensual production or distribution of harassing recordings.
  • Comments or actions that minimize a person’s lived experience, identity, or safety.
  • Deliberate outing, misgendering, refusal to respect someone’s gender identity, or use of pre-transition names.

Particularly in connection to:

  • Race, ethnicity, or national origin.
  • Gender identity or expression.
  • Sex or sexual orientation.
  • Age.
  • Disability, neurotypicality, medical condition, or pregnancy.
  • Religion.
  • Citizenship Status.
  • Body size or physical appearance.
  • Language proficiency.

Individuals and Conduct Covered

These policies apply to all employees, volunteers, and participants in events or forums affiliated with [organization name], including delegates, guests, donors, and vendors. Press and other functionaries are held to the same standards.

Retaliation Is Prohibited

Retaliation against any individual who reports discrimination or harassment is strictly prohibited. Retaliation includes interference with confidentiality of investigation, obstruction of investigation, and contacting complainant about investigation. Bullying, stalking, or threatening complainant, encouraging third-parties to contact complainant about investigation or engage in bullying or stalking behaviors, or using retaliatory motives as the basis for any decisions regarding compensation, advancement, hiring or firing.

Complaint Procedure

We strongly urge the reporting of all incidents of discrimination, harassment or retaliation, regardless of the offender’s identity or position. Individuals who believe they have experienced conduct that they believe is contrary to our policies can file a complaint with their manager or human resources. There is no fixed reporting period, however, we encourage early reporting so that the organization can respond promptly.

Investigation and Corrective Action

Any reported allegations of harassment, discrimination or retaliation will be investigated promptly, thoroughly and impartially. The investigation may include individual interviews with the parties involved. Confidentiality will be maintained throughout the investigatory process to the extent that it does not interfere with an adequate investigation and appropriate corrective action.

Depending on the nature of the allegation corrective action may include training, counseling, warning, reprimand, withholding of a promotion or pay increase, demotion, reassignment, temporary suspension, or termination.

Privacy

Transgender employees have the right to discuss their gender identity or expression openly, or to keep that information private. The transgender employee gets to decide when, with whom, and how much to share their private information. Information about an employee’s transgender status (such as the sex they were assigned at birth) can constitute confidential medical information under privacy laws like HIPAA. Management, human resources staff, or coworkers should not disclose information that may reveal an employee’s transgender status or gender non-conforming presentation to others. That kind of personal or confidential information may only be shared with the transgender employee’s consent and with coworkers who truly need to know to do their jobs.

Official Records

Our company will change an employee’s official record to reflect a change in name or gender upon request from the employee. Certain types of records, like those relating to payroll and retirement accounts, may require a legal name change before the person’s name can be changed. Most records, however, can be changed to reflect a person’s preferred name without proof of a legal name change.

As quickly as possible, we will make every effort to update any photographs of the transitioning employee.

Names/ Pronouns

An employee has the right to be addressed by the name and pronoun that correspond to the employee’s gender identity, upon request. A court-ordered name or gender change is not required. The intentional or persistent refusal to respect an employee’s gender identity (for example, intentionally referring to the employee by a name or pronoun that does not correspond to the employee’s gender identity) can constitute harassment and is a violation of this policy. If you are unsure what pronoun a transitioning coworker might prefer, you can politely ask your coworker how they would like to be addressed.

Workplace Strategies for Inclusive Pronoun Usage

Respecting your colleagues’ gender pronouns is an important part of creating a respectful workplace. Sharing your own pronouns can be a valuable contribution to creating an environment in which pronouns are never assumed and employees of all gender identities can comfortably share their pronouns.

Places you can share your pronouns include:

  • Your email signature
  • Your professional bio
  • Your nametag

Organizations should also make sure that applications, enrollment forms, and other official paperwork include the non-binary honorific Mx.

Dress Codes 

Our company does not have dress codes that restrict employees’ clothing or appearance on the basis of gender.

Restroom Policy

Gender diversity is welcome, guests, staff, and volunteers should use the restroom that is safest and most comfortable.

More information about restroom policies available here.

Adapted from Model Transgender Employment Policy: Negotiating for Inclusive Workplaces prepared by Transgender Law Center, with contributions from Translations :Seattle Transgender Film Festival in Seattle,WA in  and the Roxie Theater in San Francisco, CA.