Recognizing Transgender Employees

February 24, 2017

This week, the Trump administration withdrew federal protections for transgender students in public schools which had enabled them to choose the bathroom aligned with their gender identity (as opposed to their birth gender).

Our goal at Zenefits is to help businesses and their employees thrive, and a part of that is recognizing the diversity of all employees. For many individuals, this recognition is very important, which is why we’ve baked it into both the Zenefits’ platform and our services.

Recognizing gender diversity in our product:

We’ve made it a priority to build our product with diversity and inclusion in mind. Employees who onboard with the Zenefits platform have the option of choosing male, female or a custom gender option. This is something that was coded into our product in early 2016.  We also undertook a significant code review effort to ensure that across our product, employees were referred to using the gender neutral pronouns of they/them/their.


Helping our customers create Transgender Policies:

In addition to our product, Zenefits makes its own Transgender Policy available through its Help Center for companies to adopt as they see fit. Please note, this language is only an extract from our employee handbook and has been tailored to our workplace and employees.  We encourage you to consider the unique needs of your own workplace in crafting a policy that works best for you and your employees.

Zenefits’ Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming Policy

Transgender and gender non-conforming employees have the right to discuss their gender identity or expression openly, or to keep that information private. It is up to the employee to decide when, with whom, and how much to share their private information. You should not disclose information that may reveal an employee’s transgender status or gender non-conforming presentation to others without the employee’s consent, or only with co-workers who have a business need to know in order to do their jobs.

Every employee has the right to be addressed by the name and pronoun that correspond to their gender identity and the intentional or persistent refusal to respect an employee’s gender identity (for example, intentionally referring to the employee by a name or pronoun that does not correspond to the employee’s gender identity) can constitute harassment, is a violation of this policy, is not in line with our Core Values, and can result in immediate termination of employment. If you are unsure what pronoun a coworker might prefer, you can refer to their preferred pronouns in the Employee Directory, politely ask your co-worker how they would like to be addressed, or ask a member of the HR Team for guidance. 

Zenefits proudly supports employees who transition on the job and will work with each transitioning employee individually to ensure a successful workplace transition.

At Zenefits, we believe in research, benchmarks, and adopting best practices. While we appreciate that every work environment is different, we wanted to offer some of the best practices we’ve found.

Legal Name and Preferred Name:

Managers, supervisors and coworkers should address transgender employees using the name and pronoun appropriate to the gender the employee has requested.

Name changes are not a gender issue and should be handled the same way for every employee. An employee may designate a preferred name when transitioning. This can be represented in email system, badges, etc. The IRS requires an employee’s W-2 to match the name on the employee’s Social Security card. Because of this, a legal name change is required for any employee prior to changing an employee’s payroll/tax record.


Gender neutral restrooms are the gold standard and may be single occupancy or multi-occupant with lockable single occupancy stalls. If gender neutral restrooms are not available, transgender employees should be permitted to access restrooms consistent with their gender identity. Employers may not require transgender employees to use segregated restrooms or otherwise isolate or exclude them from other office amenities available to all employees, such as gyms or sick rooms. An employer should not request or require medical or other documentation to allow access to facilities consistent with the transgender employee’s gender identity.

Dress Codes:

Dress code policies, written or implied, should be evaluated to eliminate gender stereotypes. For example, requiring men to wear suits and women to wear dresses would not be recommended. Although it is legal to maintain a dress code, employers should take care to ensure that the dress code does not target employees based on gender or gender identity, is consistently enforced across all employees, and does not disproportionately impact any individual or group of employees.  

Read more about our stance on gender equality here


Laura loves helping busy entrepreneurs like you find relevant, recent, and relatable information to make better decisions for your business and career. As the VP of Content at Zenefits, she is committed to surfacing the best content for our customers and users.

Category: HR Tips & Trends, Zenefits

You might also like