Workplace discrimination next challenge for gay rights groups

Work place discrimination is very much a matter of perspective. It can often seem invisible to those who are not a member of a group subject to discrimination. But for those who experience it, it can be almost as debilitating as a physical injury, as they attempt to cope with loss of a job and income.

The workplace struggles of women and racial minorities continue, but there is a body of case law and statutes that provide the framework of protection. For those who are gay or transgender, in many states, that struggle is just beginning. 

New York State provides some protection with a law that ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, but lacks a law that offers protection for gender identity statewide. New York City, however, does provide protection for gender identity.

For workers outside of New York City, and in many states that do not offer any protection, the situation regarding this discrimination can be a serious problem. Some of the same advocates that worked to end marriage bans for same-sex couples are now turning their attention to the workplace.

Explicit legislative protection is important, because it eliminates the need for workplace discrimination lawyers to cobble together anti-discrimination arguments from various sources.

It also can help employers by making clear what types of behavior are prohibited, and can reduce the need for litigation. It can also reduce the stress individuals undergo when they are fired and then have to spend considerable emotional energy and worry about the outcome of their case.

While the same sex-marriage effort has been remarkably successful, the movement recognizes that the battle is far from over and that they will face conservative groups that are planning to fight many of these changes for the workplace.

Washingtonpost.com, “Ending discrimination in workplace, other areas is next gay rights battle,” Sandhya Somashekhar, June 5, 2015

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