The New York State Human Rights Law prohibits discrimination based upon actual or perceived sexual orientation, including “heterosexuality, homosexuality, bisexuality, or asexuality, whether actual or perceived.” In 2019, the law was further expanded to include gender identity or expression as a protected category. Gender identity or expression means someone’s actual or perceived gender-related identity, appearance, behavior, expression, or other gender-related characteristics regardless of the sex assigned to that person at birth, including, but not limited to, the status of being transgender.

In addition to New York State law, local and federal laws also offer protection against sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination. Unfortunately, this type of discrimination still occurs, but Bantle & Levy LLP can help you navigate it.

Legal Protections from Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Discrimination

Federal, state, and local laws all offer some level of protection against discrimination based upon actual or perceived gender identity or sexual orientation.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has held that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act does give protection to individuals based upon their sexual orientation. Title VII applies to employers in the private and public sectors with 15 or more employees.

The New York Human Rights Law and Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA) lists sexual orientation as a protected class, as well as gender identity, including transgender status.

New York City’s Human Rights Law also lists more than 30 samples of gender expressions that must be protected from discrimination. It requires employers to use each employee’s preferred name, pronoun, and title; permit employees to use any preferred restroom consistent with the employee’s gender expression; adopt gender-neutral uniform and grooming standards; and accommodate each employee’s gender identity and expression in all other respects.

In addition to state, city, and federal law, the recent Supreme Court ruling Bostock v. Clayton County, was a landmark civil rights case in which the Court held that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects employees against discrimination because they are gay or transgender.

Damages Available in Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation Discrimination Cases

The types of damages available in these cases are largely dependent on what the case is pursued–in state, city, or federal law.

The New York Human Rights Law allows victims of sexual orientation discrimination to recover damages in several categories including:

  • Lost back pay – pay from the period of time that you have been out of work.
  • Front pay – pay for a period of time that you expected to be out of work.
  • Damages for emotional distress.
  • Lost benefits.

The Human Rights law does not allow for damages for attorney’s fees or punitive damages.

However, Title VII allows for the above damages as well as provides for attorneys’ fees and punitive damages.

A New York discrimination attorney will be able to guide you through which law is best suited for your claim.

Facing This Type of Discrimination? Call Bantle & Levy LLP.

You deserve respect and fair treatment in your daily life. If you are facing discrimination in the workplace, education, or public accommodation, contact Bantle & Levy LLP. Our attorneys will fight diligently on your behalf to bring you the justice you deserve.

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