Employers in New York should ensure that their policies and practices are compliant with changes to New York law that are set to take effect soon. GENDA, the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act, will be effective on February 24th, 2019. This new law adds “gender identity” and “gender expression” as protected classes in the state’s human rights and hate crime laws, including those laws targeting workplace discrimination.
GENDA’s changes impact employers in New York. First, GENDA adds a new subdivision to the Executive Law, defining “gender identity or expression” to mean “a person’s actual or perceived 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 statute further amends the State Executive Law, Civil Rights Law, and Education Law to extend protections against discrimination on the basis of gender identity to the workplace, among other settings.
Failure to comply with GENDA creates liability for employers the same as any other violation of the Human Rights Law. Under the new law, employers could be liable for policies or practices which discriminate against, or foster a hostile work environment towards, individuals on the basis of their gender identity or gender expression. Violations of the Human Rights Law could leave employers liable for damages, including punitive damages.
All employers should review their handbooks and procedures to ensure compliance with GENDA, as well as existing provisions of the New York City Human Rights Law covering gender identity. The experienced employment attorneys at Hogan Lovells are prepared to help your company comply with GENDA.