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New York State law provides protection to people who are discriminated against because of their actual or perceived sexual orientation. The New York Sexual Orientation Non-Discrimination Act (SONDA) protects a transgender person against discrimination that is targeted toward a particular sexual orientation. In New York City, the makes discrimination based upon gender identity unlawful, meaning an employer cannot refuse to hire a qualified person because of gender identity or refuse to give a deserved promotion or other employment benefit based upon gender expression.

If you have suffered gender identity discrimination or workplace harassment based on sexual orientation in New York City, you should promptly consult a qualified attorney. These types of claims must be pursued in a timely fashion.

Gender-appropriate names and titles

If an employer refuses or fails to address an employee in a manner consistent with their gender identity by using appropriate, gender-specific first names, pronouns or titles, such as “Ms.” or “Mr.,” refusal to do so will be considered evidence of discrimination by the New York City Human Rights Commission. If an employer asks for proof of a person’s gender without legal purpose or disputes a person’s gender or asks inappropriate questions about the person’s anatomy these will also be considered evidence of discrimination by the Commission. If you are not receiving the treatment you deserve at your workplace, a New York City harassment lawyer can help you.

Dress codes and restrooms

Employees have the right to conform to company dress codes in a manner that is consistent with and appropriate to their gender identity. It is perfectly lawful to designate restrooms in accordance with gender. However, to the extent that a restroom is restricted to “ladies” or “gentlemen,” discriminatory conduct may be suggested if a person is not permitted to use the restroom that is appropriate to their gender identity. It is unlawful to require people to show identification before they are permitted to enter a restroom or other gender-segregated place.


Complaints about the violation of the New York City Human Rights Law can be mediated under the auspices of the New York City Human Rights Commission. The Commission can address the complaint at a hearing and, under appropriate circumstances, make monetary awards and issue orders correcting the discriminatory employment actions.

It is also possible to file a lawsuit under the New York City Human Rights Law to vindicate your claims. A knowledgeable, experienced attorney at the Akin Law Group can help you determine the best course for you.

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  • New York Office
    45 Broadway
    Suite 1420
    New York, New York 10006
    Phone: 212-825-1400
What is Harassment?

Harassment consists of behavior that gets in the way of a person's work and responsibilities. The law protects employees from being harassed...

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Can my employer fire me because of my religious beliefs?

Employees are generally protected in the workplace from discrimination due to sincerely held religious beliefs, but there are exceptions. Courts use a two-step...

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