Employment discrimination on the basis of gender identity and gender expression violates both New York State and New York City laws. City and state laws addressing discrimination in education also prohibit this type of discrimination. As New York City employment discrimination attorneys, we have observed many similarities between discrimination in school programs and discrimination in the workplace. While the new administration in Washington DC is taking a much different approach to issues of gender identity and gender expression than its predecessor, it remains a controversial issue, especially with regard to school sports. Discrimination in school sports can keep students from having access to sports at all, which can have wide-ranging effects. New York City and New York State have taken an inclusive approach, unlike many jurisdictions around the country.
New York State’s employment antidiscrimination law expressly bars discrimination based on “gender identity or expression.” N.Y. Exec. L. § 296(1)(a). Its definition of this term includes a person’s actual “gender-related characteristic[s],” as well as characteristics perceived by others and attributed to a person, and includes both transgender and nonbinary statuses. Id. at § 292(35). New York City law prohibits gender discrimination in employment, which includes gender identity and gender expression “regardless of the sex assigned to that person at birth.” N.Y.C. Admin. Code § 8-102.
State law generally prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in education programs, including allowing people to participate on “state public and high school athletic teams.” N.Y. Educ. L. § 3201-a. The statute does not specifically mention gender identity or gender expression, but it directs the state’s commissioner of education to establish further regulations on the matter. Athletics present a somewhat different issue than many other concerns regarding discrimination since they tend to be separated based on sex or gender.