As an employment discrimination attorney, I severely dislike informing potential and current clients that it is technically not illegal, in Ohio or on a Federal level, for employers to discriminate against potential and/or current employees based upon their sexual orientation. I am also constantly amazed by the disbelief expressed by individuals when I inform them of this fact.
It seems that almost every individual realizes that it should be illegal for an employer to discriminate against employees based on their sexual orientation, but somehow these innate concepts of justice have routinely escaped codification in a form that can actually promote and effectuate change.
As my employment law firm has blogged about in the past, Courts and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) have long carved out instances in which sexual orientation and transgender identity discrimination lawsuits can fit within the framework of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and perhaps some of these headline worthy lawsuits are behind the common misunderstanding of the public at large that such discrimination is illegal. These groundbreaking lawsuits, however, have not altered Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 itself, but the alteration which would concretely prohibit these forms of discrimination is beginning to look more realistic by the day.
The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (“ENDA”) is a proposed alteration to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which would add sexual orientation and gender identity as prohibited grounds for discrimination on par with gender, age, race, national origin, and religious affiliation. The ENDA would apply to civilian, non-religious employers with at least 15 employees, and it has been introduced in every Congress, with one exception, since 1994.
Though the ENDA has never made it through a single Congressional Branch, including its most recent introduction to the 112th Congress on April 6, 2011, the winds of change appear to be foreshadowing its eventual and hopefully imminent passage.
President Barack Obama has made clear that the passage of the ENDA is a top priority in his Plan to Strengthen Civil Rights, and he has reaffirmed his commitment to sexual orientation equality, over the last year, by announcing his support of same-sex marriage and mentioning the Stonewall Riots as a major civil rights landmark during his Second Inaugural Address.
Of course, the President does not speak for America as a whole, but a 2012 Human Rights Campaign poll showed that approximately 73% of the American public support Federal policy to prohibit discrimination against gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people.
If you even think that your employment rights have been violated or that you might need an employment lawyer, then call the right attorney to schedule a free and confidential consultation at 866-797-6040. Spitz, The Employee’s Law Firm is dedicated to protecting employees’ rights and solving employment disputes.
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