LGBT employment discrimination in the United States

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The regulation of LGBT employment discrimination in the United States varies by jurisdiction. Many, but far from all, 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 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".[citation needed] This interpretation in essence bars employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in accordance with the Civil Rights Act of 1964.[2] 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.[3] 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.[4][5] However, these rulings, while persuasive, may not be binding on courts.[6]

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.[7][8] 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.[7]

Federal employees[edit]

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."[9] 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:[10]

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.[3] 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.[4][5]

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.”[11]

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.[12][13]

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. In 2015, a broader bill, the Equality Act, was introduced instead.

State law[edit]

Current U.S. LGBT employment discrimination laws.
  Sexual orientation and gender identity: all employment
  Sexual orientation: all employment, gender identity only in state employment
  Sexual orientation: all employment
  Sexual orientation and gender identity: state employment only
  Sexual orientation: state employment only
  No state-level protection for LGBT employees

As of 2016, Michigan, Nebraska, Ohio, Florida, Arizona, Indiana, Pennsylvania, and Idaho are the only states with campaigns working in 2016 to amend existing state anti-discrimination laws to protect against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity and expression.[14]

Pennsylvania became the first state to ban public sector employment discrimination based on sexual orientation in 1975.[15] Wisconsin became the first state to ban both public and private sector employment discrimination based on sexual orientation in 1982.[16] Indiana, in accordance with Hively v Ivy Tech Community College, also bans public and private sector employment discrimination based on sexual orientation. 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.[17][18] Twenty-one states, the District of Columbia, and at least 255 cities and counties have enacted bans of one sort or another.

Twenty 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,[19] Colorado,[20] Connecticut, Delaware,[21] Hawaii,[22] Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota,[18] Nevada,[23] New Jersey,[24] New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont, and Washington. An additional two states, New Hampshire and Wisconsin, have statutes that only protect sexual orientation discrimination in the public and private sector.

Nine US states have an executive order, administrative order, or personnel regulation prohibiting discrimination only in public employment based on either sexual orientation or gender identity: Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan,[25] Montana, New Hampshire,[26] North Carolina,[27] Pennsylvania and Virginia. An additional four states have executive orders prohibiting discrimination in public employment based on sexual orientation only: Alaska, Arizona, Missouri,[28] and Ohio. The remaining sixteen 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.

The Courts of Appeals for the Sixth, Ninth, and Eleventh Circuits, covering Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, Tennessee; Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Washington; Alabama, Florida, and Georgia, have found some protections in the 1964 Civil Rights Act for the category of gender identity. State courts and administrative agencies in California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, and Vermont have said that their state sex discrimination law covers discrimination against gender identity.[29]

Chronological order[edit]

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).[30]
1973: District of Columbia: Sexual orientation protected in all employment[16]
1975: Pennsylvania: Sexual orientation protected in state employment[15]
1979: California: Sexual orientation protected in state employment[31]
1982: Wisconsin: Sexual orientation protected in all employment[16]
1983: New York: Sexual orientation protected in state employment[32]
       Ohio: Sexual orientation protected in state employment[33]
1985: New Mexico: Sexual orientation protected in state employment[34]
       Rhode Island: Sexual orientation protected in state employment[35][36]
       Washington: Sexual orientation protected in state employment[37]
1987: Oregon: Sexual orientation protected in state employment[38]
1988: Oregon: Sexual orientation no longer protected in state employment[39]
1989: Massachusetts: Sexual orientation protected in all employment[16]
1990: Colorado: Sexual orientation protected in state employment[40]
1991: Connecticut: Sexual orientation protected in all employment[16]
       Hawaii: Sexual orientation protected in all employment[16]
       Minnesota: Sexual orientation protected in state employment[41]
       New Jersey: Sexual orientation protected in state employment[42]
1992: California: Sexual orientation protected in all employment[16]
       Louisiana: Sexual orientation protected in state employment[43]
       New Jersey: Sexual orientation protected in all employment[16]
       Vermont: Sexual orientation protected in all employment[16]
       Oregon: Sexual orientation protected in state employment[39]
1993: Minnesota: Sexual orientation and gender identity protected in all employment[16]
1995: Maryland: Sexual orientation protected in state employment[44]
       Rhode Island: Sexual orientation protected in all employment[16]
1996: Illinois: Sexual orientation protected in state employment[45]
       Louisiana: Sexual orientation no longer protected in state employment[43]
1998: New Hampshire: Sexual orientation protected in all employment[46]
1999: Iowa: Sexual orientation and gender identity protected in state employment[47]
       Nevada: Sexual orientation protected in all employment[16]
       Ohio: Sexual orientation no longer protected in state employment[33]
2000: Delaware: Sexual orientation protected in state employment[48]
       Iowa: Sexual orientation and gender identity no longer protected in state employment[47]
       Montana: Sexual orientation protected in state employment[49]
2001: Indiana: Sexual orientation protected in state employment[50]
       Maine: Sexual orientation protected in state employment[51]
       Maryland: Sexual orientation protected in all employment[16]
       Rhode Island: Gender identity protected in all employment[16]
2002: Alaska: Sexual orientation protected in state employment[52]
       New York: Sexual orientation protected in all employment[16]
2003: Arizona: Sexual orientation protected in state employment[53]
       California: Gender identity protected in all employment[16]
       Kentucky: Sexual orientation and gender identity protected in state employment[54]
       Michigan: Sexual orientation protected in state employment[55]
       New Mexico: Sexual orientation and gender identity protected in all employment[16]
       Pennsylvania: Gender identity protected in state employment[56]
2004: Indiana: Gender identity protected in state employment[57]
       Louisiana: Sexual orientation protected in state employment[43]
2005: Illinois: Sexual orientation and gender identity protected in all employment[16]
       Maine: Sexual orientation and gender identity protected in all employment[16]
       Virginia: Sexual orientation protected in state employment[58]
2006: District of Columbia: Gender identity protected in all employment[16]
       Kentucky: Sexual orientation and gender identity no longer protected in state employment[59]
       New Jersey: Gender identity protected in all employment[16]
       Washington: Sexual orientation and gender identity protected in all employment[16]
2007: Colorado: Sexual orientation and gender identity protected in all employment[16]
       Iowa: Sexual orientation and gender identity protected in all employment[16]
       Kansas: Sexual orientation and gender identity protected in state employment[60]
       Maryland: Gender identity protected in state employment[61]
       Michigan: Gender identity protected in state employment[62]
       Ohio: Sexual orientation and gender identity protected in state employment[33]
       Oregon: Sexual orientation and gender identity protected in all employment[63]
       Vermont: Gender identity protected in all employment[16]
2008: Kentucky: Sexual orientation and gender identity protected in state employment[64]
       Louisiana: Sexual orientation no longer protected in state employment [65]
2009: Delaware: Sexual orientation protected in all employment[66]
       Delaware: Gender identity protected in state employment[67]
       New York: Gender identity protected in state employment[68]
2010: Virginia: Sexual orientation no longer protected [69]
       Missouri: Sexual orientation protected in state employment[70]
2011: Ohio: Gender identity no longer protected in state employment [71]
       Massachusetts: Gender identity protected in state employment[72]
       Hawaii: Gender identity protected in all employment[73]
       Nevada: Gender identity protected in all employment[74]
       Connecticut: Gender identity protected in all employment[75]
2012: Massachusetts: Gender identity protected in all employment[76]
2013: Puerto Rico: Sexual orientation and gender identity protected in all employment[77]
       Delaware: Gender identity protected in all employment[78]
2014: Virginia: Sexual orientation and gender identity protected in state employment[79]
       Maryland: Gender identity protected in all employment[80]
2015: Kansas: Sexual orientation and gender identity no longer protected in state employment[81]
       Utah: Sexual orientation and gender identity protected in all employment[82]
       Guam: Sexual orientation and gender identity protected in all employment[83]
2016: Montana: Gender identity protected in state employment[84]
       New York: Gender identity protected in all employment[85]
       North Carolina: Sexual orientation and gender identity protected in state employment[27]
       Louisiana: Sexual orientation and gender identity protected in state employment[86]
       New Hampshire: Sexual orientation and gender identity protected in state employment[26]
       Louisiana: Sexual orientation and gender identity no longer protected in state employment[87]
2017: Indiana: Sexual orientation protected in all employment

Local laws[edit]

Private sector policies[edit]

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.[88] 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.[89] There are workplace resources for how allies can create a more inclusive work environment, including programs available through PFLAG.[90]

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.[91]

Repeal efforts[edit]

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]

References[edit]

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