You can be on Entrepreneur’s cover!

What Businesses in NYC Need to Know About Discrimination Against Transgender Workers The city recently released updated guidelines on what actions are considered discrimination.

By Nina Zipkin

entrepreneur daily

Businesses in New York City, be warned: If you intentionally and repeatedly refer to a transgender worker as a "he" when the person prefers "she," you could be setting yourself up to face a discrimination lawsuit.

The NYC Commission on Human Rights recently released updated guidelines to clarify what actions are considered discrimination on the part of business owners, particularly with regard to transgender and gender non-conforming employees in the workplace. Under the rules, employers are required to use the employee's chosen name, pronoun and title "regardless of the individual's sex assigned at birth, anatomy, gender, medical history, appearance, or the sex indicated on the individual's identification."

Related: When Company Culture Becomes Discrimination

For transgender and gender non-conforming people, preferred pronouns can include he/him/his, she/her/hers, they/them/theirs or ze/hir. If you are unsure what someone's preferred pronoun is, it is within your right to ask. The NYC Commission on Human Rights notes that checking with an employee to make sure you have the correct name and pronoun is not a violation of the New York City Human Rights Law (NYCHRL).

An action that does constitute a violation of the law, however, is the withholding an employee benefit like health insurance because of someone's gender or gender identity. In accordance with the NYCHRL, health plans that are offered must include coverage for "transition-related care or gender-affirming care." In that same vein, for something like medical leave, employers are required to "treat leave requests to address medical or health care needs related to an individual's gender identity in the same manner as requests for all other medical conditions."

Related: How Entrepreneurs Can Spot Subtle Bias

Under the law, employers cannot prevent an individual from using a restroom, locker room or any customarily single-sex facility that aligns with their gender identity, regardless of that person's sex at birth. For instance, a transgender woman cannot be barred from using the women's restroom nor be forced to use a single-occupancy restroom. And when it comes to dress codes or uniform standards, instituting a rule that is based on sex stereotyping, like one that requires men to wear ties or women to wear high heels in the office, is prohibited. The NYC Commission on Human Rights recommends creating gender neutral requirements for professional attire.

Those who break the law can be landed with a civil penalty of up to $125,000, but the NYC Commission on Human Rights explains that violations of the NYCHRL "that are the result of willful, wanton, or malicious conduct" can be fined up to $250,000.

Related: It's Time to Close the Workplace Gender Gap

While sex has been a federally protected class for decades, in 2002 the New York City Council added the Transgender Bill of Rights to the NYCHRL to extend that protection to gender identity and gender expression. New York City is not the only city -- or state -- that has legislative protections in place for transgender and gender non-conforming individuals. The American Civil Liberties Union says 19 states including the District of Columbia, and at least 200 cities across the country have their own varying laws on the books.

Nina Zipkin

Entrepreneur Staff

Staff Writer. Covers leadership, media, technology and culture.

Nina Zipkin is a staff writer at Entrepreneur.com. She frequently covers leadership, media, tech, startups, culture and workplace trends.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

Editor's Pick

Side Hustle

He Took His Side Hustle Full-Time After Being Laid Off From Meta in 2023 — Now He Earns About $200,000 a Year: 'Sweet, Sweet Irony'

When Scott Goodfriend moved from Los Angeles to New York City, he became "obsessed" with the city's culinary offerings — and saw a business opportunity.

Personal Finance

How to Get a Lifetime of Investing Experience in Only One Year

Plus, how day traders can learn a lesson from pilots.

Branding

94% of Customers Say a Bad Review Made Them Avoid Buying From a Brand. Try These 4 Techniques to Protect Your Brand Reputation.

Maintaining a good reputation is key for any business today. With so many people's lives and shopping happening online, what is said about a company on the internet can greatly influence its success.

Travel

Save on Business Travel with Matt's Flight's Premium, Only $80 for Life

This premium plan features customized flight deal alerts and one-on-one planning with Matt himself.

Science & Technology

Here's One Reason Urban Transportation Won't Look the Same in a Decade

Micro-EVs may very well be the future of city driving. Here's why, and how investors can get ahead of it.

Marketing

I Got Over 225,000 Views in Just 3 Months With Short-Form Video — Here's Why It's the New Era of Marketing

Thanks to our new short-form video content strategy, we've amassed over 225,000 video views in just three months. Learn how to increase brand awareness through short-form video content.