LGBTQ individuals could be legally fired or otherwise discriminated against in employment in about half the United States until a 2020 Supreme Court ruling declared that firing a person for being homosexual or transgender was a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which bars employers from discriminating against employees based on sex.
What specific rights do LGBTQ employees have in New York State?
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 makes discrimination based on sex illegal in workplaces with 15 or more employees. This federal law also protects against discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
New York State laws
Employers may not discriminate against anyone based on their actual or perceived sexual orientation, per the January 16, 2003 amendment to the New York State Human Rights Law, known as the Sexual Orientation Non-Discrimination Act. The act defines sexual orientation as, “homosexuality, heterosexuality, asexuality or bisexuality.”
The Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act, which went into effect on January 25, 2019, further amended the NYSHRL to make discrimination based on gender expression or identity illegal for employers. The act defines gender identity or expression as, “a person’s actual or perceived gender-related identity, behavior, appearance, expression, or other gender-related characteristic regardless of the sex assigned to that person at birth.”
In addition to these acts, several New York jurisdictions have anti-discrimination policies in place.
Persons who are victims of discrimination made illegal by these acts can file a complaint with the Civil Rights Bureau of the New York State Attorney General’s Office.