House Passes Bill to Provide LGBTQ Workplace Rights

 

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The U.S. House of Representatives passed the Equality Act by a 236-173 vote on May 17. The act would prohibit discrimination based on sex, sexual orientation and gender identity in employment, housing and several other areas of federal law. The Senate will now consider the bill but isn't expected to pass it.

"Every American deserves to be treated equally under the law," said Rep. Haley Stevens, D-Mich., during a House debate. The bill would provide nationwide anti-discrimination rights for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) community.

"Let's treat LGBT people with the dignity and respect they deserve," said Rep. Jim Langevin, D-R.I., in support of the bill.

Republican representatives, however, expressed concern about religious freedom. "I agree with the intent" of the bill, said Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga. However, he said, the legislation has been rushed and wouldn't protect religious organizations that accept federal funding.

We've rounded up the latest news on this topic. Here are SHRM Online resources and news articles from other trusted media outlets.

Broad Protections

The Equality Act would expand federal civil rights to prohibit discrimination based on sex, sexual orientation and gender identity in public accommodations, education, federal funding, employment, housing, credit and the jury system. The bill would also expand the definition of public accommodations and allow people to access restrooms, locker rooms and dressing rooms in accordance with their gender identity. Democratic leaders supported the bill, saying it would improve civil-rights protections in general. Eight Republican representatives support the legislation, while others said the bill would harm religious freedoms.

(Business Insider)

Trump Administration Doesn't Support Bill

An official from President Donald Trump's administration said the bill is flawed. "The Trump administration absolutely opposes discrimination of any kind and supports the equal treatment of all," the official said. "However, this bill in its current form is filled with poison pills that threaten to undermine parental and conscience rights."

(NBC News)

Supreme Court Hears Issue

The U.S. Supreme Court justices agreed to hear several cases that ask whether the workplace sex-discrimination ban under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 applies to sexual-orientation and gender-identity discrimination. Federal appellate courts have disagreed on whether Title VII affords such protections. The justices are expected to hear oral arguments later this year.

(SHRM Online)

[SHRM members-only toolkit: Managing Equal Employment Opportunity]

State Laws, Businesses Provide LGBTQ Workplace Rights

A number of states—and cities and counties—have banned employment discrimination based on LGBTQ status. Some states have created protections only for public employees. Other states and localities prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression—but not all three. Additionally, some employers have elected to expressly include sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression as protected characteristics in their equal-employment-opportunity, anti-harassment and other policies, even though federal law does not cover all these bases.

(SHRM Online)

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