New York City Commission on Human Rights

The New York City Commission on Human Rights (the “Commission”) has adopted new rules (“Rules”) which establish broad protections for transgender, non-binary, and gender non-conforming individuals. The Rules, which define various terms related to gender identity and expression, re-enforce recent statutory changes to the definition of the term “gender,” and clarify the scope of protections afforded gender identity status under the New York City Human Rights Law. New York State also just added gender identity and expression as protected classifications under the state Human Rights Law, following the adoption of the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act.

The Rules incorporate key pieces of community feedback following a public hearing on the proposed rules. Most notably, the Rules have been updated to explicitly include non-binary identities. Under the Rules, “non-binary” is defined as “a term used to describe a person whose gender identity is not exclusively male or female. For example, some people have a gender identity that blends elements of being a man or a woman or a gender identity that is neither male nor female.” Furthermore, non-binary individuals are now also included in the Rules’ examples section, which illustrates possible violations of the prohibition on discrimination based on gender. For instance, deliberately using the pronoun “he” for a non-binary person who is perceived as male but has indicated that they identify as non-binary and use the pronouns “they,” “them,” and “theirs” is identified as an example of misusing individual’s chosen name, pronoun, or title, along with deliberately calling a transgender woman “Mr.” after she has made clear that she uses female titles.

The Commission has also added a list of terms typically associated with gender expression, such as “androgynous,” “butch,” “feminine,” “femme,” “gender non-conforming,” and “masculine,” to the existing definition of gender expression. Terms associated with gender identity, such as “agender,” “bigender,” “woman,” “gender diverse,” “gender fluid,” “gender queer,” “man,” “man of trans experience,” “pangender,” and “woman of trans experience” have similarly been added to the definition of gender identity.

While the Rules have added some important language, the key takeaways remain the same. As the proposed rules initially laid out, deliberate misuse of an individual’s chosen name, pronoun, or title, refusing to allow individuals to use single-sex facilities or participate in single-sex programs consistent with their gender identity, imposing different dress or grooming standards based on gender, and refusing a request for accommodation on the basis of gender will all be considered violations under the Rules. Additionally, covered entities must provide equal employee benefits, regardless of gender, such as ensuring that the health plans they offer provide gender-affirming care.

The Rules will go into effect March 9, 2019.

Pursuant to its mandate to implement the new anti-sexual harassment training requirements under the Stop Sexual Harassment Act (the “Act”), the New York City Commission on Human Rights (“Commission”) just released FAQs clarifying various aspects of the Act’s training mandates. Most notably, the FAQs address how an employer should determine whether it is covered by the training requirement, as well as a covered employer’s obligations with regard to training independent contractors. The training mandate becomes effective on April 1, 2019.

The Act requires employers with 15 or more employees to provide annual, interactive training to all employees who work more than 80 hours in a calendar year and work for at least 90 days. In determining whether it meets the 15-employee threshold, the FAQs instruct employers to determine the number of employees they employed “at any point within the prior calendar year.” In making this assessment, employers must count independent contractors as “employees,” regardless of how many hours or days they worked in the prior year.

Additionally, the FAQs state that employers will be required to provide training to independent contractors who have performed work in the furtherance of the business for more than 90 days and more than 80 hours in a calendar year. Employers are not required to train independent contractors who reach the 90-day/80-hour threshold if they already received the mandated annual training elsewhere.

Additionally, the FAQs:

  • Reiterate the specific topics that the training must cover, including the Commission’s complaint process;
  • Clarify that employees must receive training every calendar year (rather than by the anniversary date of their last training);
  • Stress that employers must maintain records of all training for three years, including a signed acknowledgment by each employee (which may be done electronically);
  • Confirm the notice posting requirements and instruct as to when electronic posting is acceptable; and
  • Clarify when and how newly hired employees must receive the City-issued Fact Sheet, i.e., in print or electronically and by the end of the employee’s first week of work.

The City will be providing additional information in the next few months about harassment training obligations.

Our colleagues at Epstein Becker Green has a post on the Retail Labor and Employment Law blog that will be of interest to our readers in the hospitality industry: “NYC Commission on Human Rights Issues Guidance on Employers’ Obligations Under the City’s Disability Discrimination Laws.”

Following is an excerpt:

The New York City Commission on Human Rights (“Commission”) recently issued a 146-page guide titled “Legal Enforcement Guidance on Discrimination on the Basis of Disability” (“Guidance”) to educate employers and other covered entities on their responsibilities to job applicants and employees with respect to both preventing disability discrimination and accommodating disabilities. The New York City Human Rights Law (“NYCHRL”) defines “disability discrimination” more broadly than does state or federal disability law, and the Guidance is useful in understanding how the Commission will be interpreting and enforcing the law. …

Read the full post here.

Employers in New York City are required to provide their employees with reasonable accommodations related to childbirth and pregnancy. The New York City Commission on Human Rights has published a new factsheet and notice. The notice should be provided to all employees upon hire, and posted in the workplace to provide employees with notice of their rights under the NYC Human Rights Law.

The notice and factsheet outline employers’ responsibilities with respect to pregnant employees, and recommend that employers work with employees to implement accommodations that recognize employee contributions to the workplace and help keep them in the workplace for as long as possible. The notice and factsheet also provide employees with examples of reasonable accommodations, such as breaks to rest or use the bathroom while at work, and time and space to express breast milk at work.