Back in 2015 Houston, Texas attempted to and failed to pass an expanded human equal rights ordinance (“HERO”) which would have made it illegal to discriminate against someone based on 15 different “protected characteristics,” including sex, race, religion, sexual orientation and gender identity.
Now, the State of Texas has thought it prudent to follow the lead of North Carolina and pass a state wide law restricting bathroom access.
Texas Senate Bill 6 would require transgender people to use bathrooms in public schools, government buildings and public universities based on “biological sex.” The measure would also preempt local nondiscrimination ordinances (these are the HERO or HROs that more liberal or progressive cities pass to provide protection within city limits) that allow transgender Texans to use the bathroom that corresponds with their gender identity.
Not surprisingly, like North Carolina’s HB-2 there may be a large negative economic impact if Texas passes Senate Bill 6. Texas politicians have already invited the ire of the NFL, large companies and celebrities/entertainers by proposing to limit bathroom access by “biological sex”.
“Biological sex” is defined in the bill as “the physical condition of being male or female, which is stated on a person’s birth certificate”. What’s so complicated about that, you ask.
- First, as many as 1 in 1,500 babies are born with ambiguous genitalia that qualify them as “intersex”.
- Second, thousands of the 1.4 million transgender Americans have had sex-reassignment surgery, which means that many people who were designated as male or female at birth now have “the physical condition” of being another gender.
- Third, for transgender people who retain the biological markers of their original gender identification (because they choose not to undergo surgery or cannot afford it), many transgender women and men feel not only uncomfortable but endangered when being forced to use a bathroom that does not mesh with their identity.
Baffled by bathroom litigation and how to handle bathroom access, I’ve written several posts on bathroom access and employment litigation regarding bathroom access. See my posts here (OSHA guidance on bathroom access), here (EEOC settlement of litigation which included bathroom access claims), here (11th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned summary judgment in favor of employer in discrimination claim that involved restroom access), and here (litigation involving Hobby Lobby that included restroom access claims).
Dori K. Stibolt is a partner with the law firm of Fox Rothschild LLP. Dori defends and counsels management in labor and employment litigation matters pertaining to wage and overtime claims, discrimination, harassment, retaliation, leave/restraint, and whistle-blower claims. You can contact Dori at 561-804-4417 or firstname.lastname@example.org.