On July 8, 2016, Governor Charlie Baker signed into law a bill expanding civil rights protections for transgender individuals in Massachusetts.
The new law, which takes effect October 1st of this year, prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender identity in public accommodations. It allows individuals to utilize gender-segregated restrooms or locker rooms based on their gender identity.
The law includes language to address public safety concerns that were raised by critics of the measure, and requires the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination to create guidelines to help businesses comply with the law.
Business owners should take steps to ensure that their policies and practices do not deny access and otherwise discriminate against individuals based on gender identity, transgender status, or perceived non-conformity with gender stereotypes.
Additionally, as most places of public accommodation are subject to employment-discrimination law, business owners should educate their employees that discrimination based on gender identity is unlawful and will not be tolerated in the workplace.