New York State Passes Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act

New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo recently signed into law the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA).  The new law will amend the New York Human Rights Law to add gender identity and expression as a protected class under the law and will prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity or expression in housing, employment and public accommodations. The new legislation will also amend the New York State penal law to include certain offenses motivated by gender identity and expression in the hate crime statute.

The act defines gender identity or expression as “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.”

In addition, the legislation bans the practice of conversion therapy by expanding the definition of professional misconduct for professions licensed under the education law to include engaging in conversion therapy with a patient under the age of eighteen years.

The new law will go into effect on or around February 25, 2019. The hate crime provisions of the act are expected to become effective on Nov. 1, 2019. New York employers should review their non-discrimination policies to ensure compliance with the new legislation.