NY Senate Updates Law On Real Estate “Salesmen” To Be Gender Inclusive

Originally published in Harlem World Magazine on May 11, 2021.

The New York State Senate passed legislation today, S.536, introduced by Senator Anna M. Kaplan, that will update the nearly century-old section of the law relating to real estate salespeople, striking antiquated, gender-specific language, and replacing it with gender-neutral language.

The bill will now move to the State Assembly, where it has been introduced by Assembly Member Danny O’Donnell.

The underlying section of the real property law, written in 1927, which regulates the real estate brokerage and sales professions, currently includes 85 references to “salesmen” and dozens of instances of gendered pronouns like he, him, and his.

The law only includes reference to a “salesperson” in two places, and makes no references to “saleswomen.”

Senator Anna M. Kaplan said “jobs have no gender, but unfortunately, many of our State’s laws still use gendered language when discussing professions that are practiced by people of all genders. It’s important that we update these antiquated sections of the law to reflect our New York values and send a message that everyone, regardless of gender, should be able to pursue their passions.”

Assembly Member Danny O’Donnell said “People of all professions deserve to feel valued, but gendered language in our real property law fails to adequately recognize the contributions of women and non-binary New Yorkers. We want our workplaces to reflect the diversity of New York, and the best way to achieve that goal is by making sure all realtors feel that they belong and the profession is accessible. I thank Senator Kaplan for her leadership on this issue, and look forward to moving this bill in the Assembly.

The bill, S.536, will update Article 12-A of the Real Property Law by:

  • Changing all instances of the word salesman to a salesperson
  • Removing gendered language from the Article by removing references to “his or her” in favor of “their,” change “himself” to “themselves,” as well as appropriate changes in variations to these words.

According to studies by the New York State Association of Realtors (read here) and the National Association of Realtors (read here), men are actually a minority in the profession, with women representing 64% of Realtors nationally and in New York State.

By removing gendered language from the State’s real property law, the law will finally reflect the gender diversity of the real estate sales profession.