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June 17 — Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy has signed an order boosting protections for transgender and gender nonconforming employees at the agency.
“This order reinforces that discrimination of any kind in the EPA workplace is unacceptable, including discrimination on the basis of gender identity, expression or perceived non-conformity,” McCarthy said in an agencywide note. “This order is an important step toward ensuring that the EPA workplace is diverse, inclusive and welcoming for all employees.”
Under the new order, dated June 14, the assistant administrator of the Office of Administration and Resources Management will appoint an assistance team to provide employment and facilities support to transgender, transitioning and gender nonconforming individuals. If employees feels they have been harassed, the order said they should “immediately contact their supervisor or manager” or someone on their assistance team.
Employees should notify their supervisor, program management officers or regional human resources officers of their intent to undergo a gender transition and then develop a written transition plan, according to the order.
“Employees intending to transition should ideally provide advance notice, when possible, to the agency so that preparations for the necessary logistics … can begin, and in some cases, be executed without an impact to the employee's intended work schedule,” the order said. “The transition plan should discuss expectations, education and training for co-workers and management, legal and personnel requirements, a communication plan, and other logistics as necessary.”
Communications with other staff should be “as basic as possible, yet sufficiently comprehensive to address the needs of the transitioning employee,” the order said. Certain sensitive issues unrelated to the workplace, such as whether the employee intends to have surgery, do not need to be addressed.
The order applies to all agency employees. While volunteers, contractors, and grantees are not directly covered by it, the order notes “the agency does not permit discrimination by or against anyone in the EPA workplace.”
McCarthy said in her note that the order was especially timely after the June 12 “unspeakable tragedy in Orlando, Florida” in which 49 people were killed in a gay nightclub.
“I urge everyone at EPA to recommit ourselves to the principles of inclusiveness and diversity that make our country strong and our communities vibrant,” the administrator wrote. “Our hearts grieve for the innocent victims in Orlando, and our resolve to uphold the human rights of all people grows stronger in their honor.”
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A copy of the order signed by Administrator McCarthy is available at http://src.bna.com/f0T.
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