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Cleveland Law Allows Transgender Employees to Use Restroom Associated With Gender Identity

Companies in Cleveland, Ohio, now must permit transgender employees and patrons to use the bathrooms, showers, locker rooms, and dressing facilities associated with the individual’s gender identity or expression.

Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson has signed legislation making it an unlawful discriminatory practice for places of public accommodation in the city to refuse, deny, segregate, discriminate, or make a distinction in offering goods, services, facilities, or accommodations to any person based on the person’s gender identity or gender expression. See Codified Ordinances of Cleveland Section 667.01. Religious or denominational groups are exempt from the ordinance.

Cleveland’s ordinance was initially proposed in 2013, but was not voted into law until July 13, 2016. Cincinnati, Ohio, also has passed laws protecting the rights of transgender individuals.

The term “gender identity” as used in the Cleveland ordinance is defined as “the gender-related identity, external presentation of gender identity through appearance, or mannerism or other gender-related characteristics of an individual, regardless of the individual’s designated sex at birth.”

Violation of Cleveland’s ordinance potentially subjects businesses to both civil and criminal penalties. Individuals who believe this law has been violated may file a complaint with Cleveland’s Fair Housing Board.

While the state of Ohio has not yet passed legislation prohibiting discrimination against transgender employees, some federal government agencies have issued guidance requiring that companies allow workers to use the facilities that correspond with their gender identity. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued “A Guide to Restroom Access for Transgender Workers,” and the U.S. Office of Personnel Management issued “Guidance Regarding the Employment of Transgender Individuals in the Federal Workplace.” The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the Departments of Labor, Justice, and Education also have issued guidance on the subject. See our articles, EEOC Stresses Title VII Bars Discrimination against Transgender Workers, Including Regarding Bathroom AccessOFCCP’s New Sex Discrimination Regulations Imposes a Few New Obligations on Employers, and U.S. Departments of Justice and Education Issue ‘Significant Guidance’ on Transgender Rights under Title IX.

Jackson Lewis P.C. © 2022National Law Review, Volume VI, Number 210
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About this Author

Michelle E. Phillips, Jackson Lewis Law Firm, Labor Employment Attorney
Principal

Michelle E. Phillips is a Principal in the White Plains, New York, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. She handles various types of employment litigation, with an emphasis on sexual harassment matters.

Ms. Phillips also counsels clients on a variety of labor and employment matters concerning federal and state employment laws. She frequently conducts and advises clients on internal investigations and leads employment discrimination and sexual harassment seminars and in-house diversity training programs for clients.

914-328-0404
Stephen R. Beiting, Labor, Employment Attorney, Jackson Lewis Law firm
Associate

Stephen R. Beiting is an Associate in the Cleveland office of Jackson Lewis P.C. Mr. Beiting focuses his practice on employment litigation and has represented clients in matters associated with unemployment compensation, workers’ compensation claims, the Fair Labor Standards Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and the Ohio Civil Rights Commission.  Mr. Beiting also has experience drafting policy manuals and advising clients on compliance with federal and state laws.

(216) 750-0404
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