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LGBT employment discrimination in the United States

The regulation of LGBT employment discrimination in the United States varies by jurisdiction. Many states and localities prohibit bias in hiring, promotion, job assignment, termination, and compensation, as well as harassment on the basis of one's sexual orientation. Fewer extend those protections to cover sexual identity.[1] Some cover government employees, but do not extend their protections to the private sector. Protections at the national level are limited. There is no federal statute explicitly addressing employment discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. However, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) interprets Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to cover discrimination against LGBT employees, as "allegations of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation necessarily state a claim of discrimination on the basis of sex".[2] This interpretation in essence bars employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in accordance with the Civil Rights Act of 1964.[3] In 2012 the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ruled that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 does not allow gender identity-based employment discrimination because it is a form of sex discrimination.[4] Then in 2015, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission concluded that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 does not allow sexual orientation discrimination in employment because it is a form of sex discrimination.[5][6] However, these rulings, while persuasive, may not be binding in courts.[7]

On April 9, 2015, the gender identity ruling went into effect when Judge Mary S. Scriven of the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida approved a consent decree entered into between the EEOC and Lakeland Eye Clinic, P.A. and ordered the Florida-based eye clinic to pay $150,000.00 in damages for firing a transgender employee because of their gender identity.[8][9] The EEOC ruling on sexual orientation also went into effect in June 2016, when the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission reached an agreement in a case against Pallet Companies, doing business as IFCO Systems, which agreed to pay $202,200 and provide significant equitable relief as a result of a lesbian employee alleging discrimination based on sexual orientation.[8]

Federal protections against LGBT discrimination in the workplace are proposed under the Equality Act.[10]

Contents

Federal employees and lawEdit

Presidents have established certain protections for some employees of the federal government by executive order. It was not for years that a president did in fact establish an executive order in order to protect LGBT discrimination in the work force. In 1995, President Bill Clinton's Executive Order 12968 establishing criteria for the issuance of security clearances included sexual orientation for the first time in its non-discrimination language: "The United States Government does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, or sexual orientation in granting access to classified information." It also said that "no inference" about suitability for access to classified information "may be raised solely on the basis of the sexual orientation of the employee."[11] Clinton's Executive Order 13087 in 1998 prohibited discrimination based on sexual orientation in the competitive service of the federal civilian workforce. It applied to employees of the government of the District of Columbia and the United States Postal Service and to civilian employees of the armed forces, but not to certain excepted services, such as the Central Intelligence Agency, National Security Agency, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Clinton acknowledged its limitations in a statement:[12]

The Executive Order states Administration policy but does not and cannot create any new enforcement rights (such as the ability to proceed before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission). Those rights can be granted only by legislation passed by the Congress, such as the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.

At the start of 2010, the Obama administration included gender identity among the classes protected against discrimination under the authority of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). It was Obamas' wish to further attend to LGBT civil rights not only through legislation, but also the executive branch. In 2012 the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ruled that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 does not allow gender identity-based employment discrimination because it is a form of sex discrimination.[4] In 2015, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission concluded that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 does not allow sexual orientation discrimination in employment because it is a form of sex discrimination.[5][6]

In March 2018, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in EEOC v. RG & GR Harris Funeral Homes that transgender people are protected by federal sex discrimination laws.[13][14] By August of that year, 16 states had joined an amicus brief asking the U.S. Supreme Court to reconsider the ruling.[15] The Supreme Court has agreed to hear the case as R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes Inc. v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission during the 2019-2020 term.[16]

On March 31, 2014, U.S. District Court Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly ruled in the case of TerVeer v. Billington, that Peter TerVeer can sue for discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, that bans sex discrimination, claiming that he faced discrimination after his boss found out that he was gay. Title VII does not explicitly protect against sexual orientation discrimination, but Judge Kollar-Kotelly's ruling leaves that a person could bring a claim under Title VII's ban on sex discrimination because an employer views an employee's sexual orientation as "not consistent with acceptable gender roles."[17]

On July 21, 2014, President Obama signed Executive Order 13672, adding "gender identity" to the categories protected against discrimination in hiring in the federal civilian workforce and both "sexual orientation" and gender identity" to the categories protected against discrimination in hiring and employment on the part of federal government contractors and sub-contractors.[18][19] On July 31, 2014, Obama also signed Executive Order 13673, "Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces," requiring companies with large federal contracts to prove their compliance with labor laws;[20] this executive order, however, was revoked by President Trump on March 27, 2017.[21]

In 2017, the Trump administration, through the Department of Justice, reversed the Obama-era policy which used Title VII to protect transgender employees from discrimination.[22]

A bill to ban employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), was introduced repeatedly in the U.S. Congress since 1994. Under the ENDA, it was illegal for an employer to discriminate against their employees due to their sexual orientation or gender identity. Unlike the Equality Act of 1974, the main focus of the ENDA was to end employment discrimination. In 1994, the ENDA only made it illegal for employers to discriminate against employees based on their sexual orientation. By 2007, discrimination based on gender identity had been added to the law as well.[23] In 2015, a broader bill, the Equality Act, was introduced in place of this.

In March 2019, a group representing the Department of Justice's LGBTQ employees addressed a letter to Attorney General William Barr, complaining about the increasing hostility and discrimination towards the LGBTQ employees. The group also claimed that LGBTQ employees had left the department due to alleged mistreatment and that the department did nothing to recruit and retain top LGBTQ employees.[24]

State lawEdit

 
Map of states and territories that have sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination prohibited in public and private employment via statute, executive order, regulation, and/or court ruling:
  Sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination prohibited in public and private employment
  Sexual orientation discrimination prohibited in public and private employment, while gender identity discrimination prohibited in public employment
  Gender identity discrimination prohibited in public and private employment, while sexual orientation discrimination prohibited in public employment
  Sexual orientation discrimination prohibited in public and private employment
  Gender identity discrimination prohibited in public and private employment
  Sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination prohibited in public employment
  Sexual orientation discrimination prohibited in public employment
  Sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination not prohibited in public and private employment

Pennsylvania became the first state to ban public sector employment discrimination based on sexual orientation in 1975.[25] Wisconsin became the first state to ban both public and private sector employment discrimination based on sexual orientation in 1982.[26] Minnesota became the first state to ban employment discrimination based on both sexual orientation and gender identity when it passed the Human Rights Act in 1993.[27][28] Currently, twenty-three states, the District of Columbia, and at least 400 cities and counties have enacted bans on discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Twenty one states, the District of Columbia, Guam, and Puerto Rico have statutes that protect against both sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination in employment in the public and private sector: California,[29] Colorado,[30] Connecticut, Delaware,[31] Hawaii,[32] Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota,[28] Nevada,[33] New Hampshire,[34] New Jersey,[35] New Mexico, New York[36], Oregon, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont, and Washington. Two states Michigan[37] and Pennsylvania,[38][39] have acquired such protections through executive orders, court rulings or binding decisions by their respective civil rights commissions.

In addition, two states, Indiana and Wisconsin prohibit discrimination on account of sexual orientation only; gender identity is not addressed. Indiana, in accordance with Hively v Ivy Tech Community College, a ruling by the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, and Wisconsin through a statute enacted in 1982, which made Wisconsin the first state to have private employment protections for sexual orientation. Similarly to Indiana, the Courts of Appeals for the Sixth, and Eleventh Circuits, covering Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee, have found sex protections in the 1964 Civil Rights Act to include the category of gender identity.[40]

Furthermore, 10 U.S. states have an executive order, administrative order, or personnel regulation prohibiting discrimination in public employment only based on either sexual orientation or gender identity: Indiana, Ohio,[41] Kentucky, Montana, North Carolina,[42] Michigan,[43] Wisconsin,[44] Pennsylvania,[45] Virginia and Kansas.[46] An additional 3 states have executive orders prohibiting discrimination in public employment based on sexual orientation only: Alaska, Arizona, and Missouri.[47]

The remaining states do not offer any type of discrimination protections for the LGBT community, although some cities and localities have passed their own ordinances within these states.[48]

Chronological orderEdit

1972: No LGBT civil rights at the state level, although the first local protections were enacted this year in Michigan (in East Lansing and Ann Arbor).[49]
1973: District of Columbia: Sexual orientation protected in all employment[26]
1975: Pennsylvania: Sexual orientation protected in state employment[25]
1979: California: Sexual orientation protected in state employment[50]
1982: Wisconsin: Sexual orientation protected in all employment[26]
1983: New York: Sexual orientation protected in state employment[51]
          Ohio: Sexual orientation protected in state employment[52]
1985: New Mexico: Sexual orientation protected in state employment[53]
          Rhode Island: Sexual orientation protected in state employment[54][55]
          Washington: Sexual orientation protected in state employment[56]
1987: Oregon: Sexual orientation protected in state employment[57]
1988: Oregon: Sexual orientation no longer protected in state employment[58]
1989: Massachusetts: Sexual orientation protected in all employment[26]
1990: Colorado: Sexual orientation protected in state employment[59]
1991: Connecticut: Sexual orientation protected in all employment[26]
          Hawaii: Sexual orientation protected in all employment[26]
          Minnesota: Sexual orientation protected in state employment[60]
          New Jersey: Sexual orientation protected in state employment[61]
1992: California: Sexual orientation protected in all employment[26]
          Louisiana: Sexual orientation protected in state employment[62]
          New Jersey: Sexual orientation protected in all employment[26]
          Vermont: Sexual orientation protected in all employment[26]
          Oregon: Sexual orientation protected in state employment[58]
1993: Minnesota: Sexual orientation and gender identity protected in all employment[26]
1995: Maryland: Sexual orientation protected in state employment[63]
          Rhode Island: Sexual orientation protected in all employment[26]
1996: Illinois: Sexual orientation protected in state employment[64]
          Louisiana: Sexual orientation no longer protected in state employment[62]
1998: New Hampshire: Sexual orientation protected in all employment[65]
1999: Iowa: Sexual orientation and gender identity protected in state employment[66]
          Nevada: Sexual orientation protected in all employment[26]
          Ohio: Sexual orientation no longer protected in state employment[52]
          Delaware: Sexual orientation protected in state employment[67]
          Iowa: Sexual orientation and gender identity no longer protected in state employment[66]
          Montana: Sexual orientation protected in state employment[68]
2001: Indiana: Sexual orientation protected in state employment[69]
          Maine: Sexual orientation protected in state employment[70]
          Maryland: Sexual orientation protected in all employment[26]
          Rhode Island: Gender identity protected in all employment[26]
2002: Alaska: Sexual orientation protected in state employment[71]
          New York: Sexual orientation protected in all employment[26]
2003: Arizona: Sexual orientation protected in state employment[72]
          California: Gender identity protected in all employment[26]
          Kentucky: Sexual orientation and gender identity protected in state employment[73]
          Michigan: Sexual orientation protected in state employment[74]
          New Mexico: Sexual orientation and gender identity protected in all employment[26]
          Pennsylvania: Gender identity protected in state employment[75]
2004: Indiana: Gender identity protected in state employment[76]
          Louisiana: Sexual orientation protected in state employment[62]
2005: Illinois: Sexual orientation and gender identity protected in all employment[26]
          Maine: Sexual orientation and gender identity protected in all employment[26]
          Virginia: Sexual orientation protected in state employment[77]
2006: District of Columbia: Gender identity protected in all employment[26]
          Kentucky: Sexual orientation and gender identity no longer protected in state employment[78]
          New Jersey: Gender identity protected in all employment[26]
          Washington: Sexual orientation and gender identity protected in all employment[26]
2007: Colorado: Sexual orientation and gender identity protected in all employment[26]
          Iowa: Sexual orientation and gender identity protected in all employment[26]
          Kansas: Sexual orientation and gender identity protected in state employment[79]
          Maryland: Gender identity protected in state employment[80]
          Michigan: Gender identity protected in state employment[81]
          Ohio: Sexual orientation and gender identity protected in state employment[52]
          Oregon: Sexual orientation and gender identity protected in all employment[82]
          Vermont: Gender identity protected in all employment[26]
2008: Kentucky: Sexual orientation and gender identity protected in state employment[83]
          Louisiana: Sexual orientation no longer protected in state employment[84]
2009: Delaware: Sexual orientation protected in all employment[85]
          Delaware: Gender identity protected in state employment[86]
          New York: Gender identity protected in state employment[87]
2010: Virginia: Sexual orientation no longer protected in state employment[88]
          Missouri: Sexual orientation protected in state employment[89]
2011: Ohio: Gender identity no longer protected in state employment[90]
          Massachusetts: Gender identity protected in state employment[91]
          Hawaii: Gender identity protected in all employment[92]
          Nevada: Gender identity protected in all employment[93]
          Connecticut: Gender identity protected in all employment[94]
          Alabama: Gender identity protected in all employment[95]
          Florida: Gender identity protected in all employment[95]
          Georgia: Gender identity protected in all employment[95]
2012: Massachusetts: Gender identity protected in all employment[96]
2013: Puerto Rico: Sexual orientation and gender identity protected in all employment[97]
          Delaware: Gender identity protected in all employment[98]
2014: Virginia: Sexual orientation and gender identity protected in state employment[99]
          Maryland: Gender identity protected in all employment[100]
2015: Kansas: Sexual orientation and gender identity no longer protected in state employment[101]
          Utah: Sexual orientation and gender identity protected in all employment[102]
          Guam: Sexual orientation and gender identity protected in all employment[103]
2016: Montana: Gender identity protected in state employment[104]
          New York: Gender identity protected in all employment[105]
          North Carolina: Sexual orientation and gender identity protected in state employment[42]
          Louisiana: Sexual orientation and gender identity protected in state employment[106]
          New Hampshire: Sexual orientation and gender identity protected in state employment[107]
2017: Indiana: Sexual orientation protected in all employment[108]
          Louisiana: Sexual orientation and gender identity no longer protected in state employment[109]
2018: Kentucky: Gender identity protected in all employment[110]
          Michigan: Gender identity protected in all employment[110]
          Ohio: Gender identity protected in all employment[110]
          Tennessee: Gender identity protected in all employment[110]
          Michigan: Sexual orientation and gender identity protected in all employment[111]
          New Hampshire: Gender identity protected in all employment[34]
          Pennsylvania: Sexual orientation and gender identity protected in all employment[112]
          Ohio: Sexual orientation and gender identity protected in state employment[41]
2019: Wisconsin: Sexual orientation and gender identity protected in state employment[44]
          Kansas: Sexual orientation and gender identity protected in state employment[46]

Local lawsEdit

Private sector policiesEdit

Many large companies provide equal rights and benefits to their lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender employees, as measured by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) through its Corporate Equality Index. The 2015 report found 366 businesses achieved a top rating of 100 percent. The report also found 89% of Fortune 500 businesses have non-discrimination policies on the basis of sexual orientation, while 66% of Fortune 500 businesses have non-discrimination policies on the basis of gender identity.[113] Each year, corporations send thousands of employees to the Out & Equal Regional Summit, a conference that aims to create a more inclusive work environment for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees.[114] There are workplace resources for how allies can create a more inclusive work environment, including programs available through PFLAG.[115]

Widespread adoption of private workplace policies may be motivated by good business sense, the Williams Institute suggests. Its conclusion is based on a set of studies that show that lesbians and gay men who have come out at work report lower levels of anxiety, less conflict between work and personal life, greater job satisfaction, more sharing of employers' goals, higher levels of satisfaction with their co-workers, more self-esteem, and better physical health.[116]

Repeal effortsEdit

See alsoEdit

SourcesEdit

ReferencesEdit

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