What are the laws that protect LGBT individuals from employment discrimination in New York? There are several laws that protect LGBT individuals from employment discrimination in New York. First, there is The Sexual Orientation Non-Discrimination Act (known as "SONDA"), which became effective in January 2003 and prohibits discrimination on the basis of actual or perceived sexual orientation in employment (as well as housing, public accommodations, education, credit, and the exercise of civil rights). Under SONDA, sexual orientation is defined as "heterosexuality, homosexuality, bisexuality, or asexuality, whether actual or perceived." SONDA therefore protects individuals who are targeted either based on their actual sexual orientation, or based on what the discriminator believes their orientation to be.
Although SONDA does not explicitly cover discrimination against transgender people, it does apply when a transgender person is discriminated against based upon his or her actual or perceived sexual orientation. Furthermore, New York courts have held that transgender people are protected under provisions of the New York State Human Rights Law, including prohibitions against discrimination on the basis of sex and/or disability. The New York City Human Rights Law expressly affords protection to transgender individuals.
And in terms of pending laws that protect LGBT individuals from employment discrimination in New York, in June 2014 the New York State Assembly voted to pass the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act ("GENDA"), which would strengthen New York's human rights law to prohibit discrimination in areas such as employment, housing, public accommodations, and education because of a person’s gender identity or expression. It would also expand the state’s hate crimes law to include crimes against transgender people. The bill must now be approved by the New York Senate.
If you feel you have been the victim of discrimination you can either file (1) a charge of discrimination with the New York State Division of Human Rights, or a local human rights agency, within one year of the most recent act of discrimination OR (2) a complaint directly in State court within three (3) years of the most recent act of discrimination.