After state Rep. Mike Speedy raised the issue, Attorney General Todd Rokita this week produced an advisory opinion clarifying that neither state nor federal law requires a coworker to use the preferred pronouns and names of fellow employees. 

An employer therefore is likely not liable in cases where staff members choose not to use new names and pronouns that are gender-nonconforming, the opinion states — provided that a reasonable person would not find the work environment to be objectively hostile. 

“Hoosier businesses should not be burdened with policing employees’ words to make sure their attitudes align with the latest, wokest fads,” Rep. Speedy said. “They face enough needless government regulations without being on the hook for enforcing politically correct views of transgenderism.” 

No federal court, Attorney General Rokita said, has found occasional use of non-preferred pronouns alone, even if intentional, to be actionable discrimination or create a hostile work environment. 

“Most Hoosiers agree that we all should extend love and compassion toward individuals beset with gender dysphoria,” Attorney General Rokita said. “Treating these individuals with respect, however, does not require us to deny basic truths, as we see them.” 

The times call for common sense, Attorney General Rokita added. 

“We must oppose the radical agendas of extremists,” Attorney General Rokita said, “who would force us all to march in lockstep with the transanity that dominates so many facets of society, from Hollywood to corporate boardrooms.” 

The advisory opinion notes that courts have left unsettled the question of how a pattern of pronoun usage in referring to another person might create a hostile working environment that potentially could give rise to an action under Title VII — which is part of the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964 that prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex and national origin. 

Watch Attorney General Rokita’s live press event announcing the opinion here.