On January 25, 2019, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA), which prohibits discrimination based on gender identity or expression. Under the law, “gender identity or expression” is defined as a “person’s actual or perceived gender-related 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.” 

Under GENDA, a New York employer cannot refuse to hire a prospective employee, terminate an employee, or discriminate against an employee in the terms, conditions or privileges of employment on the basis of an individual’s gender identity or expression. As a result of the enactment of GENDA, employers, landlords and places of public accommodation across New York will have to treat gender identity and expression as a protected class, similar to race, sex and religion.

As a result of this new law, employers should update their handbook and employment policies to ensure compliance with GENDA and implement any necessary changes. The provisions related to workplace discrimination will take effect on February 24, 2019. We will continue monitoring developments in this area.