After passing the New York State Assembly, the Senate is now considering the Gender Employment Non-Discrimination Act, a transgender anti-discrimination bill. The law, which comes one year after New York State legalized Gay Marriage would provide protection to those who do not conform to what's accepted as traditional male and female roles in dress and behavior. The proposed bull would add gender identity and expression to the New York State Human Rights Law which currently bans discrimination based on race, gender, age, religion, disability, and sexual orientation.
New York City has already amended its Human Rights Law in 2002 to include protection for transgender individuals and many states and cities around the country have followed suit.
Even the private sector has joined the fight against this type of discrimination with 60 of the Fortune 100 companies including gender expression and identity as part of their anti-discrimination policies.
In a recent landmark decision the EEOC has ruled that employers who discriminate against employees or potential employees on the basis of their gender identity or gender expression are in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination based on sex. Even though Title VII does not specifically state that it prohibits discrimination against transgender individuals, the EEOC, through its ruling, has determined this protection does in fact exist as an extension of the "sex" provision.
The laws have been passed in New York City and around the country in response to stories of transgender individuals being fired from their jobs when their employer learns that they intend to undergo or have undergone sex reassignment surgery. This is exactly the type of behavior that the New York State Law is designed to stop. Without this protection, employees can be fired because of their gender identity with no legal recourse.
The Sexual Orientation Non-Discrimination act, which protects individuals who are discriminated against because they are homosexual, heterosexual or bisexual, was narrowly written so that it can not be interpreted to include gender expression or gender identity. That is why this law must be passed.
The bill, which has been proposed several times before has always been stalled by the State Senate committee to which it is assigned. Governor Cuomo has publicly stated that he would sign the bill if it passes and that he intends to put pressure on the Senate to try and get this bill passed so that New York State can join the other leading states in the country in offering the full range of protection from discrimination in the workplace.
An article concerning this issue is available at The New York Daily News website.