New York Passed GENDA in January, 2019
With the passage of GENDA, LGBTQ youth and transgender individuals have protection against discrimination and harassment based on New York’s Human Rights Law. In addition, criminal offenses based on gender identity will now fall under the state’s hate crimes law.
Facts About the New Law
GENDA also protects youth against “conversion therapy.” Conversion therapy is a practice that attempts to change a person’s sexual orientation from homosexual to bisexual or heterosexual through the use of psychological or spiritual interventions. Mental health professionals have long known that therapy directed toward changing gender orientation puts patients at risk in terms of their health.
The new law reinforces regulations put in place by the New York Governor Cuomo in 2016, which restricted the use of conversion therapy for minors.
The bill for Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA) had been debated in the state legislature for 16 years, passing the Assembly a number of times and only recently passing the Senate.
What Does GENDA Mean for Employers?
It makes gender identity or expression a protected class in the same way that race, ethnic origin, age, sex, religion, disability and other discrimination categories are protected classes. Discrimination based on gender identity or expression is illegal in the workplace.
It is important for employers to understand the legal definition of this protected class:
The term “gender identity or expression” means 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. (Legislation.nysenate.gov)
As an employer, you should update your handbook, policies, and training materials to comply with the new law.
Note that inquiring about gender identity or expression during a job interview may also be viewed as discriminatory in the same way that questions about other protected classes are considered discrimination.
If you have concerns about GENDA, our attorneys at Stephen Hans & Associates are glad to advise you. We also represent employers in employment related disputes.