This weekend I am up in New Hampshire closing up the family cottage for the winter so this article in the Union Leader business section hits close to home.
NH Legal Perspective: Dialogue, good faith to guide restroom transgender issuesNew Hampshire is the only New England state that does not have a non-discrimination law that protects us. In the land of “Live Free or Die” it seems like they really don’t care if we live free.
By Brian Bouchard of Sheehan Phinney
November 5, 2016
For employers dealing with transgender related issues, the changing times have exposed a legal void of uncertainty. Time magazine recently called transgender issues the "New Civil Rights Frontier." Yet, despite a shifting and dynamic public perspective on transgender issues, Congress and federal agencies have provided little guidance to employers. As a result, many employers have been left in the dark, trying to divine the best way to deal with various related issues; none as vexing as those concerning restroom accommodations.
The questions that arise are many. For example, how should an employer respond to an employee's request to use the facilities that match his, her, or their gender identity? Should an employer request a medical professional's confirmation? Should it matter if the person has already transitioned or has no intention of doing so in any noticeable way? How should an employer educate and/or deal with other employees who express their own discomfort or other concerns
For employers in Massachusetts or North Carolina, the law is clear and their obligations as an employer are clear. In New Hampshire, the best advice we can offer in this legal void is to communicate more with everyone involved; insist on a respectful dialogue at all times; and accommodate whenever reasonably possible. This dialogue and good faith attempt to find common ground might result in creation of a private restroom, or permission for a person to use the restroom that matches his, her, or their gender identify.