New York City is making sure all of its residents are protected whether at work, home or in public spaces.
The city Commission on Human Rights released Monday new guidance, which clarifies what signifies gender identity and gender expression discrimination under the NYC Human Rights Law.
Even though discrimination based on gender identity and expression was made illegal in 2002, these new rules are expected to make clear what would be considered a violation.
“Laws that protect gender identity nondiscrimination are essential, and it is detailed guidance like this that makes the promise of the law a reality in the everyday lives of transgender people,” said Mara Keisling, Executive Director of the National Center for Transgender Equality. “The New York City Commission on Human Rights’ guidance provides a forward-thinking model on how these laws should be interpreted and enforced to help promote an environment of respect for all transgender New Yorkers.”
The new guidelines — which the city said will make the law the strongest in the nation in defending the rights of members in the transgender and gender non-conforming communities — list ways employers, landlords, and business owners could be in violation of the law.
Some of the violations include intentionally failing to use an individual’s preferred name, pronoun or title; refusing to allow someone to use single-sex facilities such as bathrooms or locker rooms; enforcing dress codes, uniforms and grooming standards imposing requirement based on sex or gender; and failing to provide employee health benefits that cover gender-affirming care.
For Pauline Park, coordinator of the transgender support group at Queens Pride House and also president of the board of directors for the organization, the new set of guidelines are a “positive reconstruction” of the first set adopted in 2004 — which she helped draft.
“It’s a positive and welcomed step that will help add detail and clarity and specificity to the existing set of guidelines that were adopted in December 2004,” Park said.
Violations of the law could lead to civil penalties of up to $125,000 for violations, and up to $250,000 for violations, which are result of intentional, reckless or malicious conduct.
“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,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said. “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.”
According to the Commission on Human Rights, about 25,200 transgender and gender non-conforming people live in New York City.
Based on a recent study, 75 percent of that population has reported harassment and mistreatment in the workplace, 20 percent has been refused a home, 17 percent were refuse medical care, and 53 percent were verbally harassed or disrespect in a public place.
Members of the public who believe they have been discriminated against on the basis of gender identity or gender expression at work, in housing or in public accommodation, can call 311 and ask for the Commission on Human Rights to set up a meeting with a Commission attorney.