New York City and New York State have led the country in adopting strong anti-discrimination laws to protect LGBTQ employees. Increasingly, LGBTQ employees have been invoking the protections of these laws against employers who don’t want to hire gay and transgender people, make it uncomfortable for them to come out or express themselves at work, or fail to promote them or pay them equally because of their LGBTQ status. Consequently, this is a rapidly developing area of the law both in New York and around the country. For instance:
- In 2015, the NYC Commission on Human Rights issued guidance on how to interpret and enforce New York City’s Human Rights Law (one of the most liberal anti-discrimination laws in the country). The Commission listed over 30 samples of distinct gender expressions that must be protected from discrimination. Employers are required to (among other things) use each employee’s preferred name, pronoun, and title; permit each employee to use any preferred restroom consistent with the employee’s gender expression; adopt gender-neutral uniform and grooming standards; and accommodate each employee’s gender identity and expression in all other respects, including evaluating medical leave requests and granting employee benefits.
- In 2018, the federal court of appeals for New York overruled its longtime interpretation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act (the powerful federal law against employment discrimination) and held that that Title VII forbids discrimination based on sexual orientation as well as gender stereotypes. The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to make the final decision on that question in the coming years.
- New York State’s Human Rights Law prohibited discrimination based on actual or perceived sexual orientation, including asexuality, since 2003, and courts held that the law also protected transgender people. At the beginning of 2019, New York State finally amended the law to explicitly prohibit discrimination based on gender identity and gender expression.
We at Cary Kane care deeply about all these issues. We have litigated these issues on behalf of employees, and we will be happy to evaluate your options in holding your employer accountable for just treatment of you based on your sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression.