There are few laws in place to protect LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) individuals from discrimination. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has held that this type of workplace bias – specific to gender identity – is prohibited by law because it falls under sex discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. That being said, the transgender community faces discrimination on a daily basis. According to a survey conducted by the National Center for Transgender Equality, approximately 20 percent of transgender people reported a job loss due to bias; furthermore, workplace harassment of transgender people was reported as high as 50 percent. There are several ways in which an LGBT person may experience discrimination based on gender identity or expression. Sometimes this occurs in the form of retaliation by an employer for asserting protected LGBT rights, refusal of FMLA or other leave of absence, or even different treatment because of HIV/AIDs status.
Legal Protections for LGBT
While the laws may not be plentiful, some state and federal laws do prohibit transgender discrimination. Protected rights include transitioning at work, dressing according to gender identity, being called by the preferred name and pronoun, using restrooms/locker rooms consistent with gender identity, having privacy concerning transgender status as well as medical information, and having employee records fully updated.
Today, as many as 18 states as well as the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico have passed laws that prohibit discrimination based not only on sexual orientation but also gender identity, within the private sector. Beyond this, four more states prohibit employment discrimination based on sexual orientation. State and local government workers are protected by state constitutions prohibiting gender-based discrimination. Finally, nine states expressly prohibit gender discrimination in the context of state employment.
Notwithstanding, studies show that more than 50 percent of LGBT people live in states that do not prohibit gender identity – or sexual orientation – discrimination. Moreover, new state laws are preempting – or overriding – local non-discrimination measures. For example, federal laws include:
- Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964;
- The Civil Service Reform Act of 1978;
- Executive Order 13087; and
- Executive Order 13672.
New York Anti-Discrimination Protections
Presently, no statewide New York law expressly prohibits employment discrimination against transgender and non-conforming members of the LGBT community. In other words, these individuals may be fired from their jobs or treated differently at the workplace simply because of appearance or gender identity – without clear, legal protection.
Last year Governor Andrew Cuomo was the first executive in the United States to issue New York statewide regulations, by way of the New York Human Rights Law, banning discrimination based on gender identity, transgender status or gender dysphoria. The regulations represent the first of their kind recognizing that harassment in addition to other forms of discrimination – by the public and private entities – is prohibited. New York has specifically banned biased treatment of transgender state workers since 2009. Furthermore, there are several municipal ordinances that also ban discrimination to varying degrees, but these protections are not guaranteed and the law was silent regarding those not employed by the state.
New York Sexual Discrimination Attorney
If you or someone you know has faced discrimination in New York as part of the LGBT community, contact experienced sexual discrimination lawyers at Ricotta & Marks, P.C. to handle your employment discrimination case. Serving clients across New York, our attorneys will handle your case with confidentiality and compassion. For an initial, free consultation, contact us and call (347) 464-8694 today.