The New York City Commission On Human Rights has officially banned willful misuse of gender pronouns as part of a new update to the city’s 1945 Human Rights Law.
The new guidance, released on December 21, will fine employers, landlords and service providers up to $250,000 for deliberately addressing individuals by the wrong name or gender pronouns. New York City defines “gender” as one’s “actual or perceived sex and shall also include a person’s gender identity, self-image, appearance, behavior or expression, whether or not that gender identity, self-image, appearance, behavior or expression is different from that traditionally associated with the legal sex assigned to that person at birth.”
The new guidance can impose a civil penalty fine “up to $125,000 for violations, and up to $250,000 for violations that are the result of willful, wanton, or malicious conduct.” The penalty amount will be determined based on the severity of the violation, a history of previous violations, knowledge of the NYC Human Rights Law and the violating company’s size.
While many states are still struggling to catch up to this standard, New York has had the Gender Expressions Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA) floating around the state Assembly and Senate since 2003. Although GENDA has yet to receive a vote on the Senate floor, this update was most likely added as a way of protecting transgender individuals from unfair discrimination on the basis of gender identity.
This new guidance is a huge win, especially for the 25,000 transgender individuals living in New York City.
The full statement is worth a read, particularly for those looking further clarification.