Resources and Guidelines for Employers

Federal and state law prohibit Massachusetts employers from discriminating against employees in protected classes, such as race, religion, disability, etc. Massachusetts recognizes gender identity and sexual orientation as protected classes – Know Your Rights – Employment Discrimination in MA

MTPC Employer Recommendations:

  • Include “Gender Identity and Expression” as a category in diversity, hiring, and EEO statements
  • Establish Gender Transition Guidelines: Institute protocols for gender transitions that clearly delineate responsibilities and expectations of transitioning employees, their supervisors, colleagues, and other staff.
  • Ensure Privacy — Keep the transgender employee’s status private and confidential, limited to the fewest people necessary.
  • Update Personnel and/or other Records
  • Dress Codes: Transgender employees may dress consistently in accordance with their gender identity.
  • Benefits: Remove Discriminatory Health Insurance Exclusions

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) Ruling

An employer who discriminates against an employee or applicant on the basis of the person’s gender identity is violating the prohibition on sex discrimination contained in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, according to an opinion issued on April 20, 2012 by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). See Understanding the EEOC Process.


Transgender and gender non-conforming youth and adults should be addressed and referred to by their names and by pronouns corresponding to their gender identity that is asserted at school, work, and/or accessing services.

Transgender and gender non-conforming youth and adults should not be required to obtain a court-ordered name and/or gender change or have a diagnosis from a psychologist or therapist as a prerequisite to being addressed by their name and pronoun corresponding with their gender identity.

The name in employment personnel records should match the name on the Social Security card. The records should be changed if a revised Social Security card is received.

What is employment discrimination?

It is illegal in the state of Massachusetts to discriminate against an individual on the basis of their gender identity in the area of employment. Discrimination is defined as unfair treatment because of an individual’s membership in a particular group, including transgender and gender non-conforming people.

The following information has been adapted from MCAD’s FAQ

In the employment context, discrimination begins with an “adverse employment action”: something an employer does that hurts an employee, such as terminating the employee, not selecting the employee for a promotion, giving the employee a poor evaluation, harassing the employee with derogatory remarks or behaviors, or denying the employee’s request for an accommodation of a disability. If you believe the adverse employment action happened to you because of your race, color, religion, national origin, ancestry, sex, age, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, genetics, or past involvement in a discrimination complaint, it could be discrimination. If the adverse action happened to various people from all different backgrounds, it may not be discrimination, and other agencies may be able to assist you.

How do I know if my employer is covered by state discrimination laws?
If you are a part- or full-time employee at a workplace that employs at least six part- or full-time employees, then your employer is covered. If you have questions about this, you can raise them when you come to file a complaint with MCAD.

Filing a Complaint

Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD)
If you believe you have experienced discrimination within the last 300 days, the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination is available to assist you. If you visit one of MCAD offices and meet with an intake worker, they will explain to you what kind of evidence you will need to prove that discrimination occurred. Click here for more information about how to file a complaint with MCAD.

U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) Ruling on Transgender Employees

The 2012 EEOC ruling protects transgender people under the Title VII sex discrimination law. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) ruled in a 5-0 decision that an employer discriminating against a transgender employee or job applicant because of the person’s gender identity is illegal sex discrimination based on Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

National Center for Transgender Equality has released a “Know Your Rights Guide” on this ruling.

Transgender Law Center has also released “Frequently Asked Questions: What the EEOC’s Decision in Macy v. Holder Means for You”

What are the procedures involved in filing a federal EEO complaint?

The first step is to contact the EEO Office at the agency where you work or where you applied for a job and ask to speak with an EEO Counselor.  Generally, you must contact the EEO Counselor within 45 days of the day the discrimination occurred.

Boston Area EEOC Office
John F. Kennedy Federal Building
475 Government Center
Boston, MA 02203
Phone: 1-800-669-4000
Fax: 617-565-3196
TTY: 1-800-669-6820

Office Hours: The Boston Area Office is open Monday through Friday from 8:30 am to 5:00 pm. Intake hours are Monday through Friday, from 8:30 am to 3:00 pm.

We encourage you to call our 800 number listed above for information and pre-screening by an intake information representative before you visit our office.