Many New Jersey residents are unaware that there are no federal laws that protect transgender people from job discrimination. Though people are protected from job discrimination that is based on gender or sexual orientation, they are not protected from discrimination for their gender identity. Transgender people can also be discriminated against in housing without legal recourse.
A vast majority of transgender employees experience some form of harassment on the job. According to a 2011 survey, 90 percent of transgender workers said that they had been harassed at work or somehow forced to conceal their identities at work. Though there are local and state laws in some areas that protect transgender employees from discrimination, many transgender workers are unlikely to go to the authorities because they fear that they will experience further discrimination. A spokesperson for the Center for American Progress said that transgender women are particularly vulnerable to this type of discrimination.
Unemployment and poverty among transgender people is pervasive, especially for minorities. Around one-third of all black and Hispanic transgender people earn under $10,000 per year, which is considered extreme poverty. A 2014 survey found that the unemployment rate among transgender people is 14 percent overall and 28 percent for those who are black.
Though federal laws do not specifically mention transgender as a protected class, a transgender person may still be able to file a claim for sex discrimination or sexual harassment. An attorney may be able to help a transgender person to understand the options for pursuing compensation for discrimination and harassment in the workplace. The Equal Employment Opportunity earlier in 2016 settled two lawsuits that it had brought on behalf of transgender workers who had been subject to this type of workplace discrimination.