• New Jersey Joins Ranks Protecting Gender Identity and Expression
  • July 9, 2007 | Author: Colleen A. Sorrell
  • Law Firm: Holland & Knight LLP - New York Office
  • Effective June 17, 2007, New Jersey’s Law Against Discrimination added “gender identity and expression” as a new protected category. The law defines the protected group as individuals “having or being perceived as having a gender related identity or expression whether or not stereotypically associated with a person’s assigned sex at birth.” The intention is to provide employment discrimination protection to transgendered individuals, including pre- and post-operative transsexuals, transvestites and androgynous individuals. The new protection differs from sex discrimination in that gender identity focuses more on the core identification of a person’s gender – whether exhibited through image or physical presentation, or through behavior or expression – regardless of one’s sex at birth. New Jersey joins a number of other states that provide some form of protection to employees from discrimination based upon gender identity or expression, including California, District of Columbia, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Minnesota, New Mexico, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington. In addition, several states have similar legislation scheduled to take effect in the near future: Colorado (8/3/07) and Oregon (1/1/08). Moreover, some states, like New York and Massachusetts, have provided some protection through interpretation of their anti-discrimination statutes. The protection varies depending upon the jurisdiction.