Best Ohio LGBT Discrimination Attorney Answer: Can the Post Office demote me because I am transgender? Is it legal for a private employer in Ohio to discriminate against me based on my transgender status? Can a private employer who is a federal government contractor fire me because I am gay?
I hold this very simple belief when it comes to employment. If you are qualified to do the job, you should be able to do the job. If you are more qualified than the next person for a promotion, you should get the promotion. I don’t care what the color of your skin is any more than I care who you are dating, taking to bed, or married to. If you can do the job, do it. If you cannot, you don’t deserve it. If everyone shared this belief, well, I’d be out of a job (but that would be okay).
Most people think that the law historically has not offered protections for discrimination based on who an employee is dating or otherwise associated with. This is not true. Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Ohio’s R.C. § 4112.99, an employer cannot discriminate against an employee because he or she is dating someone of a different race or national origin. Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) an employer cannot discriminate against an employee because that employee is associated with a disabled person. So, under federal and Ohio law, an employer cannot discriminate or fire a White woman for dating a Black man or a disabled man, but can discriminate against her if she is sleeping with another woman. To be fully accurate, an could not fire a Caucasian man for dating a African American man, but only because of the race issue and not because the two men were the same sex. So the law already has a history of blocking employers from looking at who an employee is romantically involved with. If the law is blind as to the color of your significant other’s skin, shouldn’t it also be blind as to the gender of your partner as well? Well, hell yeah, but we are not there yet.
LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) employment discrimination is an evolving area of the law. Many state and local governments have already enacted laws prohibiting employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. There are far fewer state and local laws offering protections based on gender identity. Notably, Ohio is one of the states with no LGBT employment discrimination laws on its books. This is a horrific injustice. Our employment discrimination attorneys have blogged about this problem before (Can My Job Discriminate Against Me Because Of My Sexual Orientation?; Top Attorney Answer To: Do I Have A Wrongful Termination Claim If I Am Treated Differently For Not Conforming To Gender Stereotypes?; Sexual Orientation Employment Discrimination: ENDA In Sight?)
A number of recent developments at the federal level, though, are helping bring LGBT employment discrimination law into closer harmony with contemporary public opinion. An executive order signed by President Obama in July, which will take effect this spring, and a recent memo by Attorney General Eric Holder signal shifts in attitudes about LGBT discrimination and in the legal protections afforded LGBT workers.
Since the mid-1960s, federal contractors and subcontractors have been prohibited from engaging in discriminatory employment practices based on an individual’s race, gender, national origin, religion, or age. Executive Order 13672, signed by President Obama over the summer, adds gender identity and sexual orientation to the list of protected characteristics. EO 13672 amends EO 11246, signed by Lyndon Johnson in 1965, which “prohibits federal contractors and federally assisted construction contractors and subcontractors, who do over $10,000 in Government business in one year from discriminating in employment decisions on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.”
Recently, the United States Department of Labor published its final rule implementing EO 13672. The final rule will be effective on the quickly approaching April 8, 2015 and will apply to contractors and subcontractors who enter into, or modify, any contracts with the federal government after that date. To comply with EO 13672, all federal contractors and subcontractors must take affirmative action ensuring that their job applicants and employees are not discriminated against because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. EO 13672 further requires that federal government contractors and subcontractors include language in their contracts reflecting the fact that sexual orientation and gender identity are now protected classes for the purpose of employment discrimination. Federal contractors and subcontractors must also add similar language in any job advertisements and notices to third-parties. In short, it will soon be as illegal for a federal contractor to discriminate against an LGBT individual as it would be to discriminate against an individual based on race, religion, or any other protected class.
Eighteen states–again, Ohio is not one of them–and the District of Columbia already have LGBT workplace discrimination laws in place. EO 13672, however, is the first federal action explicitly prohibiting LGBT discrimination in the private sector and is an important step in ending LGBT discrimination. While the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) has previously interpreted existing regulations as prohibiting discrimination based on gender identity, prior to EO 13672, nothing in the federal code explicitly prohibited private sector discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation. EO 13672 is expected provide LGBT discrimination protection to as many as 14 million employees who work for federal contractors.
Federal contractors and subcontractors are not the only employers brought into the twenty-first century by EO 13672. President Obama’s executive order also amends EO 11478, signed by Richard Nixon. As signed, EO 11478 prohibited discrimination within the federal civil service, which includes civilian employees of the armed forces and Postal Service, based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, handicap, and age. In 1998, President Clinton amended EO 11478 to expand the list of protected classes to include sexual orientation. EO 13672 now adds gender identity to that list.
On the heels of the Department of Labor’s publication of its final rule on EO 13672, Attorney General Eric Holder circulated a memo to Department of Justice attorneys stating that the DOJ will now interpret Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 as prohibiting discrimination based on gender status, including transgender and transitioning. As the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division may not sue private employers, this shift at Justice will only provide protections to transgendered state and local public employees. Nevertheless, this development, along with EO 13672, provides a clear indication that momentum has shifted and our society will no longer tolerate LGBT discrimination in the workplace.
If you are searching “I need a lawyer because I have was wrongfully fired or terminated today;” or “I have been discriminated against because I am …” gay, a lesbian, bisexual, or transgendered; or even think that you might need an employment law lawyer, then it would be best to call the right attorney to schedule a free and confidential consultation at 866-797-6040. Your employment rights are constantly changing and the best way to find out if you can sue your boss, manager, supervisor or employer for discrimination, harassment, or wrongful termination is to call Spitz, The Employee’s Law Firm and talk to its attorneys, who are experienced and dedicated to protecting the rights of employees just like you.
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