NYC Commission on Human Rights Announces Strong Protections for City's Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming Communities in Housing, Employment and Public Space
December 21, 2015
Commission releases new guidance on gender identity and gender expression protections under New York City’s Human Rights Law to provide explicit examples to employers, landlords, business owners, and the general public on what the City considers discrimination under the lawGuidance protects rights of all New Yorkers by stating that enforcing dress codes, uniforms, and grooming standards that impose different requirements based on sex or gender may be a violation of the law
NEW YORK—Today, the New York City Commission on Human Rights released new guidance that makes clear what constitutes gender identity and gender expression discrimination under the NYC Human Rights Law, making it one of the strongest in the nation in protecting the rights of transgender and gender non-conforming individuals. Although discrimination based on gender identity and expression has been illegal under the City’s law since 2002, previous guidelines never articulated the range of violations of the law. Today’s guidance provides bold and explicit examples of violations, sending a clear message to employers, landlords, business owners, and the general public what the City considers to be discrimination under the law. The guidance also offers best practices on how stakeholders can comply with the law.
“New York has always been a diverse and welcoming city and our laws are designed to protect every New Yorker, regardless of their gender identity,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “Today’s new guidelines strengthen those laws by ensuring that every transgender and gender non-conforming person in New York receives the dignity and respect they deserve. I look forward to working with Commissioner Malalis and other stakeholders to continue enhancing protections for our city’s most vulnerable.”
“Far too often, transgender and gender non-conforming individuals suffer discrimination, harassment, and violence on a scale many cannot imagine,” said Carmelyn P. Malalis, New York City Human Rights Commissioner. “New York City does not and will not tolerate discrimination on the basis of gender identity or gender expression. Today’s guidance makes it abundantly clear what the City considers to be discrimination under the law and the Commission will continue to aggressively enforce protections to make that promise a reality. Every New Yorker deserves to live freely and safely, free from discrimination.”
“In New York City we protect the rights of transgender and gender non-conforming people – in the workplace, in the supermarket, and on the street,” said Counsel to Mayor Maya Wiley. “Today’s bold new guidelines send a clear message that we will uphold the dignity of our residents, no matter their gender identity. The Commission under the Chair’s leadership is redoubling its commitment to protect every New Yorker from unlawful discrimination.”
Today’s guidance lists several ways employers, landlords, and business owners could violate the Law on the basis of gender identity and expression, including:
- Intentionally failing to use an individual’s preferred name, pronoun or title. For example, repeatedly calling a transgender woman “him” or “Mr.” when she has made it clear that she prefers female pronouns and a female title.
- Refusing to allow individuals to use single-sex facilities, such as bathrooms or locker rooms, and participate in single-sex programs, consistent with their gender identity. For example, barring a transgender woman from a women’s restroom out of concern that she will make others uncomfortable.
- Enforcing dress codes, uniforms, and grooming standards that impose different requirements based on sex or gender. For example, enforcing a policy that requires men to wear ties or women to wear skirts.
- Failing to providing employee health benefits that cover gender-affirming care or failing to provide reasonable accommodations for individuals undergoing gender transition, including medical appointments and recovery, where such reasonable accommodations are provided to other employees. (Federal and New York laws already require certain types of insurance to cover medically-necessary transition-related care.)
Violations of the New York City Human Rights Law could result in civil penalties of up to $125,000 for violations, and up to $250,000 for violations that are the result of willful, wanton, or malicious conduct. There is no limit to the amount of compensatory damages the Commission may award to a victim of discrimination.So, say, for example, Bruce Jenner, who has flipped back and forth on his gender identity, walks into The Palm, sits at a table, and waits for a friend that will be joining him.
A short while later, some statist Nazi liberal walks in and asks the maitre de if Caitlyn Jenner is there.
"Yes, he's seated in the corner booth."
"Excuse me, what did you say?"
"I said, he's seated in the corner booth."
The statist, liberal Nazi says, "please let her know that I am slightly delayed," and walks out of the front door.
Outside, the statist liberal Nazi pulls out her cell phone and dials 9-1-1.
"9-1-1, what is your emergency?"
"I'm in front of the Palm, and there's a crime occurring inside as we speak!"
"Is it a robbery, are the culprits armed?"
"No! It's not a robbery and they're not armed!"
"Is someone assaulting, beating up a patron or employee?"
"NO! There're no assaults going on!"
"What exactly is the nature of the emergency?"
"The maitre de just referred to an occasionally transgendered person by a pronoun other than their stated 'pronoun of preference.'"
"Caller, please stay on the line while I dispatch the SWAT team!"
"Caller, are you still there?"
"Yes, I am."
"I've dispatched the SWAT Team, they will be there in less than 5 minutes, in the meantime, I want you to make sure that you are positioned safely away from the restaurant, we do like to make sure that our citizens minimize their risk of harm during an active talker situation!"