October 7, 2015 — Gov. Jerry Brown signed a landmark equal benefits bill today to protect transgender employees of companies that do business with state agencies. Senate Bill 703 builds on existing California law and prohibits a state agency from entering into a contract in the amount of $100,000 or more with any company that does not offer equal benefits based on an employee’s gender identity.
“When transgender people are denied equal access to health care, we are singled out for serious health risks and financial hardship,” said Transgender Law Center Executive Director Kris Hayashi. “Providing equal benefits makes economic sense and will help protect transgender workers and our families.”
Authored by Senator Mark Leno, SB 703 is co-sponsored by the National Center for Lesbian Rights, Equality California and 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,” said Senator Leno, D-San Francisco. “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.”