A Safer Workplace for Federal Workers

Categories: Civil Rights, LGBT, The Insider

In a move that delivers safety and protects the dignity of transgender public servants, the General Services Administration (GSA) has announced that transgender employees and visitors must be allowed to use the restrooms that match their gender identity.  

“Federal agencies occupying space under the jurisdiction, custody, or control of GSA must allow individuals to use restroom facilities and related areas consistent with their gender identity," the GSA notice says.   

"The self-identification of gender identity by any individual is sufficient to establish which restroom or other single-sex facilities should be used," the notice adds.  

The new regulation applies to all facilities that GSA owns, leases, or manages on behalf of federal agencies. GSA currently owns and leases nearly 400 million square feet of space in 9,600 buildings nationwide, including office buildings, courthouses, post offices, and laboratories. 

This is good news for brave employees like Tamara Lusardi, an AFGE member who faced discrimination at work after transitioning from male to female, including not being able to use the women’s bathroom. 

Lusardi’s discrimination case against the Army went to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which in April 2015 issued a landmark ruling that the Army had discriminated against her on the basis of sex, which is a violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. 

“Today’s move by the GSA means that employees like Tamara Lusardi will no longer be harassed or intimidated from using the bathroom that corresponds to their gender,” said Augusta Y. Thomas, AFGE’s National Vice President for Women and Fair Practices. “This is one more step along the path to having a discrimination-free workplace.” 

AFGE has worked to ensure that transgender public servants are treated with dignity and respect. In 2014, the Women’s and Fair Practices Departments, working in tandem with the Transgender Law Center, developed an model policy for federal agencies to use to create a transgender inclusive workplace.  

GSA’s announcement affirms recent decisions by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and other agencies that discrimination based on general identity is illegal under the same laws that prohibit discrimination based on sex. 

“The federal government has torn down another wall by rejecting discrimination against employees based on their gender identity,” AFGE National President J. David Cox Sr. said. “Every person should be able to go to the bathroom that corresponds to their gender – and it’s up to each person to make that determination.”

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