NYLAG Launches Transgender Employment Rights Program

Pictured above: Ez Cukor, Harvard Law School Irving R. Kaufman Fellow, who will implement the new Transgender Employment Law Project at NYLAG.

The New York Legal Assistance Group (NYLAG) has launched a program to help low-income transgender and gender non-conforming (TGNC) workers combat discrimination and other unlawful practices that represent formidable barriers to earning a living in New York City.

NYLAG’s LGBT Law Project, which currently provides culturally competent representation to low-income LGBT clients, will draw on the employment law expertise of NYLAG’s Justice at Work Project (JWP), bridging two existing areas of NYLAG’s work and expanding its ability to help LGBT clients across a broader spectrum. Elizabeth “Ez” Cukor, Harvard Law School Class of 2012, was awarded a Harvard Law School Irving R. Kaufman Fellowship for Public Service to develop the project with NYLAG.

“It is outrageous that today, in New York City, transgender people continue to experience discrimination in the workplace, and with this new program NYLAG is putting employers on notice that this behavior is illegal and will not be tolerated,” said NYLAG President, Yisroel Schulman. “We will address the problems of poverty and discrimination within the transgender community through direct legal representation of transgender workers by bringing together the expertise of two of our most effective legal services programs. Our LGBT Law Project attorneys will provide culturally competent representation for our transgender clients, while the Justice at Work Project attorneys will bring their expertise in employment law. And, we are thrilled to welcome Ez Cukor to NYLAG and partner with her in this effort.”

In a recent survey of transgender workers, half of all respondents had never been offered a job while living openly as transgender and nearly 60% had experienced employment discrimination. A large nationwide study yielded similar results: almost 80% of TGNC respondents reported experiencing discrimination on the job. A staggering 47% of respondents had been fired, denied promotion, or not hired because of their gender identity. Moreover, TGNC people are nearly four times more likely to be living in dire poverty than the general population.

NYLAG’s LGBT Law Project offers free direct legal assistance to low-income LGBT community members. The Project offers assistance with matters that involve family law, second-parent adoptions, orders of protection, legal name changes, housing discrimination, wills and advanced directives among other areas. This work is made possible by a generous grant from the Orrick Community Responsibility Program. For more information go to www.nylag.org/lgbt or call 212-613-5000 x 5107.

NYLAG’s Justice at Work Project provides advice, consultations, and legal representation to low-wage workers on issues related to employment. JWP assists workers seeking to enforce their rights in the workplace, particularly in the areas of wage violations, unemployment insurance appeals, employment discrimination, and the Family and Medical Leave Act.