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In Focus: Pride Month a Reminder of LGBTQ Workplace Issues

A group of people waving a rainbow flag in a crowd.

Workplace issues involving lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) individuals have been at the forefront of employers' minds the last several years, ranging from unequal treatment of benefits for same-sex spouses to bathroom accessibility for transgender employees to sexual orientation discrimination.

In 1995, October was designated as LGBT History Month by a coalition of education-based organizations, according to the Library of Congress. In recent years, the last Sunday in June has been designated as Gay Pride Day. President Barack Obama signed a presidential proclamation in May 2016 designating June of that year as LGBT Pride Month. There has been no official White House statement commemorating June as Pride Month, although President Donald Trump has said he will continue to enforce Obama's 2014 executive order creating certain workplace protections for LGBTQ individuals.

Why Is LGBT Pride Month in June? 
June is unofficially recognized this year as LGBTQ Pride Month, because of a demonstration that took place in 1969.The morning of June 28, 1969, New York City police raided the Stonewall Inn, a popular gay bar in Greenwich Village. Law enforcement could legally justify the raid because Stonewall was serving liquor without a license, but at that time, it wasn't unusual for police to target gay clubs. What was uncommon was for crowds to fight back.
(USA Today)  

Civil Rights Act Protects Gay Workers, Court Rules 
In a significant victory for gay rights, a federal appeals court in Chicago ruled April 4, 2017, that the 1964 Civil Rights Act protects gay workers from job discrimination, expanding workplace protections in the landmark law to include sexual orientation. 
(New York Times

Are You (& Your Boss) Doing These 11 Things to Support LGBT Employees? 
More and more employers are forging ahead to make their companies welcoming to LGBT people, even without state and federal laws in place to support equality. 

One obvious way to do that is with a company-wide non-discrimination policy that says that no one will be hired, fired, promoted, or retained on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. But why stop there? Read about 11 things you (and your boss) can do to fully welcome LGBT people into the workplace. 

[SHRM members-only toolkit: Employing Transgender Workers]

Vast Majority of Transgender Workers Face Discrimination in Workplace, Study Says  
The study, "
Paying an Unfair Price: The Financial Penalty for Being Transgender," shows that as many as 47 percent of trans workers report being unfairly denied a job. And 78 percent report being harassed, mistreated or discriminated against at work. 
(Pasadena Star-News)

Promoting Access to Restaurant Jobs for the Transgender Community 
Challenges in the workplace for the transgender community include hostile actions by coworkers, harassment and discrimination. Some have been fired for conflicts over bathroom access. Others have felt it necessary to hide their identity. 

A new Williams Institute study estimates that 150,000 youth in the United States from ages 13 to 17 identify as transgender. This finding makes promoting access to employment for the transgender community more important than ever. 

Appellate Ruling Sharpens Scrutiny of LGBT Employees' Benefits 
A ruling by the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago increases the risk for employers that don't offer lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) employees and their spouses or domestic partners benefits equal to those provided to non-LGB employees and to opposite-sex spouses and partners. 
(SHRM Online

Appeals Court Rules Sexual Orientation Discrimination Is Not Prohibited  
An appeals court recently excluded sexual orientation discrimination from protection under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, but employers should continue to investigate and not tolerate such discrimination, employment attorneys say. HR also should retain sexual orientation as a protected status under company anti-harassment and equal employment opportunity policies. Pending court decisions may change the federal courts' history of ruling this way, attorneys said. 
(SHRM Online

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