On June 8th, New Hampshire Governor Christopher Sununu signed into law H.B. 1319, which prohibits discrimination based on gender identity in employment, housing, and public accommodations. H.B. 1319 defines gender identity as “a person’s gender-related identity, appearance, or behavior, whether or not that gender-related identity, appearance, or behavior is different from that traditionally associated with the person’s physiology or assigned sex at birth.” The bill amends the state’s anti-discrimination law to add gender identity to the already existing protections against discrimination based on age, sex, race, religion, color, marital status, familial status, physical or mental disability, or national origin. The law will take effect July 8.
Although the statutory language in Ohio law and Title VII does not expressly prohibit gender identity employment discrimination, employers should be aware of the changing legal landscape regarding gender identity as a protected class. New Hampshire has joined California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont, and Washington, and Washington, D.C., in protecting gender identity. Additionally, the Sixth Circuit has interpreted Title VII to protect transgender individuals from employment discrimination. Based on the increasing protections for transgender employees nationwide, employers should consider reviewing and updating their anti-discrimination and anti-harassment policies.