New Hampshire Protections Against Discrimination

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New Hampshire Law Expands Protections Against Discrimination to Include Gender Identity

New Hampshire became the 20th state in the nation to prohibit discrimination of all forms based on gender identity.  Governor Sununu signed HB1319 into law, and it took effect on July 20, 2018.  In signing the bill, Governor Sununu stated:

“Discrimination, in any form, is unacceptable and runs contrary to New Hampshire's Live Free or Die Spirit. If we really want to be the Live Free or Die State, we must ensure that New Hampshire is a place where every person, regardless of their background, has an equal and full opportunity to pursue their dreams and to make a better life for themselves and their families. This bill will ensure equal rights, equal opportunity, and nondiscrimination protections in the areas of housing and employment, and today I signed HB 1319 into law.”

(Source: Sununu.Press@nh.gov, 6/8/18)

Gender Identity as a Protected Class

House Bill 1319 adds gender identity to the list of protected classes under the New Hampshire Law Against Discrimination, the state’s anti-discrimination statute (RSA 354-A). The Law Against Discrimination prohibits discrimination in employment, public accommodations, and housing on the basis of age, sex, race, creed, color, marital status, familial status, physical or mental disability, national origin, and gender identity.

The law makes it an unlawful for employers to:

1.     Refuse to hire or employ; bar or discharge from employment; or discriminate against an individual on the basis of gender identity in compensation or in the terms, conditions or privileges of employment.
2.     Employers are prohibited from publishing, circulating, or utilizing any statement, advertisement, publication, or application in connection with employment that expresses, directly or indirectly, any limitation, specification, or discrimination on the basis of gender identity

The law makes it an unlawful for Labor organizations to:

1.     Exclude or expel from membership or discriminate against an individual on the basis of the person’s gender identity.

The law makes it an unlawful for housing representatives to:

1.     Discriminate on the basis of gender identity in the sale, rental or lease of housing; and accessing places of public accommodation.

Gender Identity as Defined by the Law

Under the amended statute, gender identity is defined 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.”

Gender identity can be shown by presenting “evidence including, but not limited to, medical history, care or treatment of the gender-related identity, consistent and uniform assertion of the gender-related identity, or any other evidence that the gender-related identity is sincerely held as part of a person’s core identity provided, however, that gender-related identity shall not be asserted for any improper purpose.”

Other States Who Have Enacted Similar Legislation

New Hampshire joins California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont, and Washington, along with Washington D.C. to include gender identity and/or gender expression in their employment anti-discrimination statutes.

It is important for New Hampshire employers to update their policies and procedures to include gender identity and gender expression and allow employees to avail themselves of the statute’s protections.