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The courts and LGBT discrimination

Although a majority of residents in New York and the rest of the country support legislation protect LGBT employees from employment discrimination, federal legislation been repeatedly blocked by Republicans. However, the court system seems poised to accomplish what Congress is unable to.

Various court rulings, state and local legislation and executive orders are what currently provide LGBT people with partial protections from employment discrimination. Executive orders pertaining to federal employment, such as the one signed by President Clinton, bans discrimination based on a person's gender identity and sexual orientation. President Obama signed an executive order that widened the scope to include government contractors. Many Democratic-led states have nondiscrimination laws for LGBT people while most Republican-led states offer no statewide protection.

The courts have issued rulings that provide protection for public employees who are LGBT, and tend to do the same for private sector employees only where there are supporting municipal ordinances or state laws. However, their analyses of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 may make the prohibition of employment discrimination against LGBT individuals working in the private sector a reality.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commissionasserts that discrimination based on a person's sexual orientation and gender identity is banned by Title VII. It has also stated that it will begin to engage in litigation on behalf of LGBT workers who have been victims of employment discrimination. Despite the fact that courts are not obligated to adhere to the EEOC's interpretations, they often defer to them in their rulings.

Victims of workplace discrimination based upon gender identity may want to meet with an attorney to see what rights they may have. In some cases it could be advisable to initiate the process by filing a claim with the EEOC.

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