Earlier this week, the New York City’s Human Rights Commission unveiled new and far-reaching regulations that require businesses to ensure gender equality in a myriad of new ways.
The city’s new regs are the result of Mayor de Blasio’s interpretation of city laws that were already on the book. City officials have not, however, explained why they are interpreting existing law differently than the previous administration did. Such laws made discrimination based on gender identity and expression illegal ever since 2002. The new interpretation and regulations are stricter than federal regulations, and NYC businesses found in violation could face a $250,000 fine.
Chair of the Commission, Carmelyn Malalis explained: “New York City does not and will not tolerate discrimination on the basis of gender identity or gender expression… Today’s guidance makes it abundantly clear what the city considers to be discrimination under the law, and the commission will continue to aggressively enforce protections to make that promise a reality.”
The updated regulations require bars, restaurants, landlords, and other businesses to ensure equality for transgender persons as well as “gender non-conforming” individuals, an estimated 25,000 of which live in the city.
Under the new regulations, no longer can an employer force only women to wear dresses while men are required to wear suits with ties. An employer is now required to refer to a transgender employee as “she” or “he,” however the individual prefers.
Michael Silverman, the Executive Director of the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund, explains: “It’s a huge step forward and really catapults New York City to the forefront of the struggle for transgender rights…This is an extremely positive development for transgender New Yorkers who face enormous rates of discrimination, unemployment and difficulty accessing things like health care that people take for granted”
Further, the Executive Director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, Donna Lieberman elaborated:
“By issuing some of the strongest and most comprehensive legal guidance in the country, New York City has taken a major step toward ensuring that transgender and gender non-conforming New Yorkers can enjoy dignity, respect and access to opportunity in our city.”
It appears that the city that never sleeps aims to be the city that never discriminates.