New Hampshire’s employment anti-discrimination law applies to public or private employers who have at least 6 employees. It forbids employers from refusing to hire a person, or discharging them, or discriminating against them “in compensation, or in terms, conditions or privileges of employment” because of sexual orientation (NH RSA 354-A:7, I). This covers most significant job actions, such as hiring, firing, failure to promote, demotion, excessive discipline, harassment, and different treatment of the employee and similarly-situated co-workers. The law also applies to labor organizations (e.g. unions) and employment agencies (NH RSA 354-A:7, II, III).
New Hampshire State Division of Personnel also has an equal employment opportunity program which ensures that the state employs qualified people regardless of sexual orientation (NH RSA 21-I:42, XVI). Moreover, the State is forbidden from discriminating in the classified service with respect to sexual orientation (NH RSA 21-I:52, I).
As broad as the law is, there are several exemptions:
- The law does not apply to employers with fewer than 6 employees. An employer’s spouse, parent, or child do not count as employees (NH RSA 354-A:2, VI, VII).
- The law does not apply to a non-profit exclusively social club or a non-profit fraternal or religious association or corporations (NH RSA 354-A:2, VII).
- Any employer, agency, or labor organization may defend against a discrimination claim by arguing that it is a “bona fide occupational qualification” of the job in question to have a non-LGBT employee fill it (NH RSA 354-A:7, I, II, III). Luckily, although this defense is allowed by law, it is strictly applied and very rarely successful (See, e.g., Sarni Original Dry Cleaners, Inc. v. Cooke, 388 Mass. 611, 447 N.E.2d 1228 (1983)).