‘Gender expression’ now protected in N.J.; check dress code

by on
in Firing,FMLA Guidelines,Hiring,Human Resources

If your organization’s dress code and grooming policies set different standards for males and females, discuss the policy with your employment-law attorney. A new change in state law may prompt the need to remove any sex-specific requirements.

Reason: In December, New Jersey amended its Law Against Discrimination (LAD) to include “gender identity or expression” among the list of protected characteristics.

That means employers no longer can discriminate (in hiring, firing, pay, promotions or work conditions) against employees for changing gender physiologically or for dressing, behaving or otherwise identifying with a gender other than their “assigned sex at birth.” The law takes effect June 17.

How will it affect your workplace? Dress codes, like many aspects of this law, will require some ironing out in the courts. But it seems safe to assume that you can’t disallow, on the basis of the person’s gender, any dress, behavior or appearance that’s generally acceptable.

The amendment, along with the recently passed same-sex civil union law and the family leave act, signals the state’s determination, as state Sen. Ellen Karcher says, to “continue to lead the way, to ensure that everyone has a fair chance to succeed in life” regardless of their gender identity or sexual orientation.

Leave a Comment