Senate confirms ‘proemployer’ Gorsuch to Supreme Court

April 07, 2017 0 COMMENTS

The Senate has confirmed President Donald Trump’s nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court, Neil Gorsuch. Because Gorsuch is known for adhering to the letter of the law, his confirmation likely is good news for employers, experts say.

Democrats initially filibustered Gorsuch’s confirmation, but Republicans invoked the “nuclear option” and changed the Senate rules to allow them to break filibusters of Supreme Court nominees with only 51 votes. Previously, that required 60 votes. On April 7, the Senate confirmed Gorsuch 54-45.

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In ‘landmark’ ruling, appeals court says sexual orientation discrimination is illegal

April 06, 2017 0 COMMENTS

Federal law prohibits employers from discriminating against employees on the basis of their sexual orientation, a federal appeals court ruled for the first time on April 4.

With its “landmark” ruling, the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals upended three decades of precedent and set up the issue for review by the U.S. Supreme Court, according to Steven L. Brenneman, a partner with Fox, Swibel, Levin & Carroll, LLP, and an editor of Illinois Employment Law Letter.

The decision applies only in Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin, but Brent E. Siler, an attorney at Butler Snow in Memphis and a contributor to Tennessee Employment Law Letter, said its effect reaches far beyond those three states. The ruling, combined with the federal government’s position on the issue, means employers must ensure they do not discriminate based on sexual orientation, Siler added.

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Houston Equal Rights Ordinance going on November ballot

August 04, 2015 0 COMMENTS

Voters in Houston will decide the fate of the controversial Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO) when they go to the polls in November. On August 5, the Houston City Council decided to put the measure on the ballot after the Texas Supreme Court ruled on July 24 that the council had to either repeal the ordinance or put it to the voters.

The city council passed HERO in May 2014, but the ordinance was the target of a petition drive to have it repealed. At first, the city secretary said opponents of the measure had enough signatures to force a vote. Later, many of the signatures were thrown out, but the supreme court decided the petition was properly certified.

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Indiana employers need to be ready for religious freedom law

June 18, 2015 0 COMMENTS

by Angela Johnson and Martha Lemert

The new Indiana Religious Freedom Restoration Act (IRFRA) is set to take effect July 1 after being signed into law in March and then amended in April because of objections that the statute would be used to discriminate, particularly on the basis of sexual orientation.

In its amended form, the IRFRA doesn’t authorize most employers to discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, ancestry, age, national origin, disability, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or military service. That’s the case even if an employer raises a religious objection.

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LGBT final rule for contractors published

December 05, 2014 0 COMMENTS

The final rule implementing President Barack Obama’s Executive Order prohibiting federal contractors from discriminating against employees and applicants based on sexual orientation and gender identity has been published in the December 9 Federal Register.

The rule implements Executive Order 13672, which Obama signed on July 21. The order directed the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) to update rules to add gender identity and sexual orientation to classes protected by law. Obama had hoped Congress would pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which would have covered more employers than just those with government contracts, but that bill has not passed.

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Obama plans Executive Order against sexual orientation bias by contractors

June 17, 2014 1 COMMENTS

by Tammy Binford

Continuing his use of Executive Orders in what’s being called a “year of action,” President Barack Obama plans to sign an order to prohibit federal contractors from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, according to news reports.

On June 16, news reports quoted a White House official as saying that Obama plans to sign the Executive Order, but the official didn’t say when the president will take the action. The order would make it unlawful for employers that have federal contracts to discriminate in employment decisions based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

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Despite Senate passage, ENDA faces another hurdle

November 05, 2013 1 COMMENTS

by Tammy Binford

Although the U.S. Senate voted in favor of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) on November 7, final passage of the bill, which would prohibit employers from discriminating against employees and applicants based on their sexual orientation and gender identity,  faces an obstacle in the House.

The Senate voted 64-32 to pass the bill, with 10 Republicans joining all Democrats in voting for the measure. The November 7 vote followed a 61-30 vote on November 4 that allowed the bill to go to a vote instead of being stalled by a filibuster.

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Phoenix bans sexual orientation discrimination

February 27, 2013 0 COMMENTS

by Dinita L. James

On February 26, the Phoenix City Council voted to amend its human relations ordinance to include lesbian, gay, and transgender persons as well as disabled individuals among the groups protected from employment discrimination. The 5-3 vote came after a nearly five-hour public hearing before an estimated 500 people in the city’s historic Orpheum Theatre.

Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton had fast-tracked the amendment, which was something of a sleeper until opponents, including the Catholic Diocese of Phoenix, mobilized in the week before the vote. Phoenix had voted down a similar proposal 21 years ago.

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EEOC plan reveals enforcement priorities

September 07, 2012 1 COMMENTS

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has released a draft of its Strategic Enforcement Plan (SEP) that spells out priorities such as stepped-up efforts against hiring discrimination and harassment, new protections for various vulnerable workers, preserving access to the legal system, and dealing with emerging issues like changes brought by the ADA Amendments Act.

Recruitment and hiring
The SEP says the EEOC will target class-based intentional discrimination as well as practices that seem neutral but adversely affect particular groups. The plan specifically mentions racial and ethnic minorities, older workers, women, and people with disabilities.

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Virginia Senate Passes Sexual Orientation Bias Protection for State Workers

February 10, 2010 0 COMMENTS

by Michael E. Barnsback

On Monday, February 8, the Virginia Senate passed a bill (SB 66) prohibiting discrimination in state employment that includes sexual orientation as a protected category. Although Governors Mark Warner and Tim Kaine issued executive orders prohibiting discrimination (including sexual orientation discrimination) in the state workforce, this is the first time that either the Virginia Senate or House has passed such a bill. It’s anticipated that the bill will fail in the Republican-controlled House.

Despite the bill’s predicted failure, the Senate’s action highlights the party-line debate over sexual orientation discrimination.

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