The Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (“GENDA”) was signed into law by Governor Cuomo in January 2019. The law added gender expression and gender identity to the State’s Human Rights Law as a protected class and prohibits unlawful discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations based on a person’s gender identity or expression.
GENDA defines gender identity or expression “as a person’s actual or perceived gender related identity, appearance, behavior, 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 law also recognizes “gender dysphoria”, a medical condition in which a person has psychological distress resulting from an incongruence between one’s sex assigned at birth and one’s gender identity (DSM-5-TR), as a disability. So, for example, in the context of employment, a person suffering from gender dysphoria may be entitled to a reasonable accommodation at work, unless it would impose an undue hardship on the employer.
Under the law New Yorkers have the right to use their requested name regardless of their appearance, medical history or the sex indicated on their identification, and it is a violation for an employer or other entity covered by the law to refuse to use the person’s requested name, pronoun, or title. Thus, for example, if Rose, a transgender individual, wishes to be referred to by a different name, an employer must honor the request.
It is also a violation of the law to impose unequal terms, conditions or benefits based on a person’s gender identity or expression. Other prohibited conduct include:
- Refusing to allow individuals to use facilities consistent with their self-identified gender regardless of the person’s sex assigned at birth.
- Requiring a person to use a single-occupancy bathroom because they are transgender when multi-occupancy facilities are available.
- Imposing appearance standards based on sex stereotypes.
- Denying equal opportunities for advancement because of a person’s gender identity or expression.
- Making threatening or humiliating comments or engaging in name calling because of a person’s gender identity or expression.
- Refusing to hire a person because of their gender identity or expression.
- Refusing to rent an apartment to a person because of their gender identity or expression.
These, of course, are only a few examples of how the law may impact upon your business operations. It is important that this change in the law be kept in mind and implemented in order to avoid potential liability.
For further information or guidance on how this law may affect your business, or for assistance in revising your policies and procedures in accordance with this law, please contact Stanley A. Camhi at firstname.lastname@example.org.