Gender Labels in the Workplace

The Ontario Human Rights Code protects people from discrimination based on gender expression and gender identity in areas such as employment and housing. This means employers must treat transgender and gender non-conforming people fairly and provide accommodation when possible. One aspect of this is respecting the person’s gender identity and using the appropriate gender labels in the workplace. Here’s what employers should know about accommodating trans and gender non-conforming employees.

Gender Expression & Gender Identity

Gender identity is a person’s individual and internal experience of gender. This is different from sexual orientation and may be the same or different from the gender they were assigned at birth.

Gender expression is a person’s public presentation of their gender. This may include their outward appearance, body language and voice. Their chosen name, gender label and pronoun of choice are also ways of expressing gender.


Gender in the Workplace

The Human Rights Code states that it is an individual’s right to define their gender identity. They must be treated according to the gender they live in, regardless of whether they’ve undergone surgery or have had their documents updated.

For employers this means addressing the trans person by the correct pronoun, using the right gender labels in the workplace and providing access to changerooms and washrooms based on the person’s lived in gender. Dress code policies should also allow trans people to dress according to their expressed gender.

Employer Responsibilities

It is the organization’s responsibility if discrimination or harassment occurs in the workplace. For this reason, employers should do what they can to prevent it by changing their rules, policies and facilities to be more inclusive. Accommodations should be made up to the point of undue hardship.

Information identifying a person’s gender should be kept confidential and the organization should have a valid reason for requesting and using it. Trans people may change their name and gender label on these documents.

Do you need advice on how to accommodate an employee at work? We help Ontario employers avoid discrimination and prevent harassment based on gender identity and expression. Call 1 (833) 247-3652 to speak to an HR expert today.