Gender identity and discrimination laws in New York

On Behalf of | Jun 15, 2016 | Workplace Discrimination

A recent post began a discussion about gender identity as it specifically relates to the bathroom use controversy. The matter certainly affects people on a personal level, whether they are part of the transgender community or not. 

Those who don’t support laws like here in New York that encourage people to use the bathroom that matches their gender identity worry about their comfort level and safety in the bathrooms. That worry, however doesn’t trump the issue of human rights and anti-discrimination laws in the state. 

But what, according to New York law, are a person’s rights regarding gender identity, including at their place of work?

The following are a few gender identity basics:

According to the New York Commission on Human Rights, gender identity is defined as “one’s internal deeply-held sense of one’s gender which may be the same or different from one’s sex assigned at birth.  One’s gender identity may be male, female, neither or both, e.g., non-binary.  Everyone has a gender identity.  Gender identity is distinct from sexual orientation.”

In the workforce, it is against the law for an employer to discriminate against someone based on gender, including their gender identity or identity as transgender. The most obvious forms of discrimination would be not hiring, promoting or treating an employee like other workers based on their gender identity. If they are of equal skill and employment status, transgender workers should be given same opportunities as others. 

It is also against the law to refuse workers from using or partaking in single-sex facilities and programs. This regulation is where bathroom use comes into play. Employers should not force transgender workers to use one facility or the other. A worker has the right to use the bathroom that matches their personally-perceived gender identity. It is important to note that the law stresses how it doesn’t matter if other workers or consumers disagree with this practice. That right to bathroom use remains in New York. 

If you believe that your employer has failed to live up to these human rights regulations or related laws, you could be the victim of workplace discrimination. Talk to an employment lawyer to better understand your rights. In doing so, you could help yourself but also others who might feel victimized like you, too. 

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