Employers look to ‘culture of inclusiveness’ in era of expanding LGBT rights

September 17, 2017 1 COMMENTS

Inclusiveness, civility, respectful treatment: Those are all concepts getting a lot of attention as employers struggle to cope with what seems like an increasingly divisive culture often threatening to bleed over into the workplace.  Diversity Team Community Group of People Concept

A changing legal landscape also must be considered as employers strive for productive and nondiscriminatory working environments. For example, a landmark ruling from the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals recently concluded that sexual orientation is a protected category under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) also sees Title VII as encompassing sexual orientation and gender identity. Also, many state legislatures have passed laws prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

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Gender identity in the workplace: Employers face emerging discrimination issue

July 19, 2015 0 COMMENTS

When the Olympian and reality TV star the world knew as Bruce Jenner announced this spring that he identifies as female rather than male, the resulting publicity put a new employment issue into focus: Controversy surrounding gender identity is more than fodder for reality TV. It also poses workplace discrimination questions as well as practical dilemmas such as restroom access. Transgender Bathroom

Although Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 doesn’t specifically address gender identity, more and more that granddaddy of discrimination laws is being interpreted as prohibiting discrimination based on gender identity. In December 2014, a memorandum from then U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder stated: “I have determined that the best reading of Title VII’s prohibition of sex discrimination is that it encompasses discrimination based on gender identity, including transgender status.” He went on to say that the U.S. Department of Justice “will no longer assert that Title VII’s prohibition against discrimination based on sex does not encompass gender identity per se, including transgender discrimination.”

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Here come the feds! POTUS, DOJ, DOL, and EEOC weigh in on LGBT issues

May 17, 2015 0 COMMENTS

by Geoffrey D. Rieder

Significant expansion of the antidiscrimination protections afforded to members of the LGBT community was accomplished in 2014 through executive action by President Barack Obama, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), and the attorney general (AG). The push for more protection of LGBT employees culminated in two lawsuits in which the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) challenged the layoff and termination of employees undergoing gender transition procedures. The EEOC’s litigation posture, bolstered by executive action, suggests that employers should anticipate increased enforcement activity in this unsettled area.  Pride flag at city hall

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 has always prohibited discrimination, harassment, and retaliation “because of sex” and “on the basis of sex.” Some states have adopted statutes that broaden that concept to include not only “sex” but also “sexual orientation [and] gender identity.” Although Title VII doesn’t explicitly prohibit sexual orientation or gender identity discrimination, the EEOC has now taken the position that discrimination based on gender identity (specifically, a “change in gender”) is discrimination “based on sex.” Similar pronouncements are found in the EEOC’s “Strategic Enforcement Plan, FY 2013-2016,” issued on December 17, 2012. However, many federal courts around the country have ruled that the language of Title VII doesn’t extend to the issues encompassed by the new executive actions.

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