On January 15, 2019, the New York Legislature passed a bill that protects transgender people from discrimination and adds gender identity or gender expression as a protected class in employment, housing, places of public accommodations and other areas. After more than a decade of attempts, the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA) awaits Governor Cuomo’s expected signature.
GENDA adds “gender identity or expression” as a protected category under the Human Rights Law, affording it the same protected status as other categories, such as race, sex, religion or age. Gender identity or expression is defined as a “person’s actual or perceived gender-related identity, appearance, behavior, or expression or other gender-related characteristic regardless of the sex assigned to that person at birth, including, but not limited to, the status of being transgender.” The passing of GENDA means that employers, housing establishments, and places of public accommodation are prohibited from discriminating against individuals because of their gender identity or gender expression.
Now is a good time for all New York State employers to review existing anti-discrimination policies to ensure they comply with the Human Rights Law and GENDA. Employers should also ensure annual sexual harassment training incorporates gender identity and gender expression and emphasizes that discrimination or harassment on those bases is unlawful.