Local Laws and Government Policies Prohibiting Discrimination Based on Gender Identity in New York
By Christy Mallory, Sarah Liebowitz
Amending New York’s Human Rights Law to explicitly prohibit discrimination based on gender identity would extend protections to an estimated 41 percent of New York’s population, including 23,800 transgender people. Currently, 59 percent of New Yorkers are covered by 12 local ordinances that are inconsistent, limited and, at times, weaker than the state human rights law. For example, five ordinances do not provide protection in all areas covered by the state human rights law – employment, housing, public accommodations, education, credit, and union practices. Further, three ordinances, unlike the state law, do not allow people who have experienced discrimination to sue.
New York’s current Human Rights Law prohibits discrimination based on race, sex, religion, disability, national origin, marital status, sexual orientation, domestic violence victim status, military status, and predisposing genetic characteristics in public and private employment, housing, public accommodation, education, credit, and union practices. The state Division of Human Rights enforces the law, which allows individuals to file complaints with the agency or the courts. Remedies include reinstatement and back pay, among others.