California Governor Jerry Brown has
signed landmark legislation that protects transgender employees of
companies doing business with state agencies.
The bill (SB 703) prohibits state
agencies from entering into a contract worth $100,000 or more with
any company that does not offer equal benefits to employees
regardless of their gender identity.
The bill was authored by openly gay
Senator Mark Leno and co-sponsored by the National Center for Lesbian
Rights (NCLR), Equality California and the Transgender Law Center.
“California law already stipulates
that employers cannot deny transgender people health care and other
benefits, but a loophole in state law has allowed companies that
contract with the state to refuse equal health coverage,” Senator
Leno, a Democrat from San Francisco, said in a statement. “This
bill closes that loophole. Denying equal benefits to employees at
the same company based on gender identity is harmful and wrong. It
also can jeopardize employee health and strain publicly-funded
programs that fill in the gaps when employers don't provide the same
benefits to everyone.”
California is the first state to enact
such a law, which takes effect on January 1, 2016.