The rights of employees take a priority in New York, so all employers must be prepared to ensure compliance with applicable laws. One area that is particularly problematic is discrimination and harassment in the workplace. No worker should have to deal with these illegal behaviors.
For people who don't have a traditional gender identity and those who aren't in heterosexual relationships, finding a workplace where they can work without issues can be challenging. The Sexual Orientation and Non-Discrimination Act seeks to protect workers from facing hostile workplaces due to these factors.
Purpose of SONDA
SONDA was enacted on Jan. 16, 2003, and covers a variety of situations, including education, employment and housing. Protected individuals can't face discrimination based on real or perceived sexual orientation. One important point to know here is that the law doesn't specifically protect transgender people from being discriminated against. However, if the discrimination is based on sexual orientation, SONDA would come into the picture.
In addition to SONDA, workers in New York City have specific laws that prohibit discrimination due to gender expression or identity. This gives them another layer of protection against these abhorrent behaviors.
Types of discrimination
There are many ways that these workers might face discrimination. Some of the more common are that they might not be allowed to use the bathroom of the gender with which they identify. The New York City Human Rights Law specifically allows individuals to use the one that aligns with their gender identity. Businesses can set specific rules for bathrooms, such as not allowing loitering, if they are concerned about this law, but this doesn't allow them to discriminate.
Other forms of discrimination include failing to hire, promote or provide benefits to a worker due to these factors. It can also include negative employment actions, including firing, demoting or reducing pay. Harassment involves an individual having to face comments or behavior from others due to how they identify. Even refusing to call a person by their chosen identifier, such as Mr., Ms., Mrs., or Mx. can be a problem.
Workers can act
Any worker who is discriminated against or faces harassment can take legal action. It is a good idea to document any incidents so that you can refer back to this data if necessary. Taking action as soon as these events occur can help you to put an end to things before they get out of hand.