LGBT Employees Lack Crucial Protections

You may be surprised to learn that LGBT employees lack explicit federal protections against employment discrimination and face higher levels of harassment on the job. In fact, only 20 states plus Washington D.C. have laws that explicitly prohibit employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Click here to see a map of which states have updated their laws to ensure that LGBT are treated fairly at work.

The U.S. Supreme Court may soon hear a case featuring Aimee Stephens, who was fired from her job R&G and G&R Harris Funeral Homes, after coming out as transgender. Last March, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of Stephens and the EEOC finding that her firing at work was illegal under Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination based on sex at work. The ACLU and the ACLU of Michigan are representing Aimee Stephens in this case.

Last week, MAP and the National LGBTQ Workers Center released a new brief LGBT People in the Workplace which details the history, demographics and experiences of LGBT people in the workplace. Click here to learn more.

Nursing Home shows high risks for LGBT elders

Breaking news this week from Lambda Legal! The 7th Circuit has ruled in favor of their client Marsha Wetzel, a lesbian whose senior living facility failed to protect her from harassment, discrimination, & violence. “Nursing Home” shows the high risks for LGBT elders without nondiscrimination protections. It could mean providers, like nursing homes or senior living facilities, could turn people away and deny them care they need.

 

Who are LGBT Workers?

This weekend we celebrate Labor Day, the national holiday that commemorates the contributions of workers and the labor movement in the United States. Despite the holiday being more than 120 years old, there is still much to do to ensure that all people’s contributions at work are recognized and honored.

It’s shameful that most women—particularly women of color—still receive grossly unequal pay compared to men. For every $1 a man makes, women make 80 cents, but Black women make 63 cents, Native American women make 58 cents, and Latinas make only 54 cents for every $1 a man makes.

And, it may be shocking to realize that LGBT people go to work every day with few guarantees they will be hired and evaluated based on their contributions and not their sexual orientation or gender identity. What’s worse, most people aren’t aware of such inequalities: according to a 2013 survey, 69% of Americans believed that it was illegal to fire someone in the U.S. for being gay. But in reality, only 20 states and D.C. have laws that explicitly prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Released today, LGBT People in the Workplace: Demographics, Experiences, and Pathways to Equity is an infographic report developed by MAP and the National LGBTQ Workers Center that summarizes the discrimination faced by LGBT people in the workplace. This visual primer explains the patchwork of legal protections available to LGBT people in the U.S., presents the demographic profiles of workers and the severe barriers they confront—in terms of hiring, firing, wages, and benefits—in the midst of an ever-changing economy.

Coauthored with the National LGBTQ Workers Center, this report includes the Center’s grassroots agenda for policy change, which deliberately focuses on LGBT people of color. Centered around worker-led advocacy efforts, the intersectional agenda seeks federal, state and local advocacy in order to create policy change for all LGBT people.

Establishing federal and state level LGBT protections is a pathway towards equality, but grassroots campaigns that are led by workers and prioritize workers’ rights can accelerate policy change. This report emphasizes that the marginalized experiences of transgender workers and workers of color must be prioritized if our goal is to completely eradicate discrimination against all LGBT people in the workplace and beyond.

ICYMI: Fast Company Opinion piece calls on businesses to be Open to All

Earlier this month, Fast Company published an opinion piece “Masterpiece Cakeshop” means inclusive companies have more work to do. Authored by MAP’s Director of Communications and Public Education Calla Rongerude, the piece is a strong call to action for inclusive businesses to reject discrimination and declare that they are open to all.  

On June 4, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. The case involved a bakery that refused service to a same-sex couple claiming it should be exempt from the state’s nondiscrimination law due to the religious beliefs of its owner. While the decision reversed the original ruling by the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, it did so on grounds that were unique to the case and applies only to Masterpiece Cakeshop. However, the ruling did NOT broadly allow businesses to discriminate.

As the Open to All campaign manager writes: “inclusive businesses shouldn’t rest easy. Instead, every company should take yesterday’s [Masterpiece] decision as an urgent call to action, declaring their doors open for business–and closed to the misguided notion that faith can or should nullify civil rights in America.”

Open to All is nationwide public engagement campaign to build understanding and discussion about the importance of our nation’s nondiscrimination laws—and the bedrock principle that when businesses open their doors to the public, they should be Open to All.

The coalition has made it easy for public-serving businesses to act. They have launched an Open to All Business Pledge—by signing the pledge and displaying the Open to All sign in a store window, business owners can commit to supporting nondiscrimination protections and send a powerful message that their business is open to all.

Click here to sign the Open to All business pledge: http://opentoall.com/business-pledge

Click here to read the opinion piece in Fast Company: https://www.fastcompany.com/40581046/masterpiece-cakeshop-means-inclusive-companies-have-more-work-to-do

NEW REPORT: State Preemption and the Threat to Progress and Equality

North Carolina’s HB2 was a terrible bill for many reasons. Not only did it ban transgender people from accessing restrooms, it also prevented local cities from (1) protecting their residents from discrimination and (2) from raising the local minimum wage. How?

The state legislature reversed a local law protecting LGBT people and prevented any other city in the state from protecting LGBT people or raising the minimum wage, through a tactic called “preemption.” This tactic is part of an increasingly common strategy by state legislatures throughout the country to limit local progress on a wide range of issues, from the minimum wage and paid leave to pro-immigrant policies and LGBT-inclusive nondiscrimination ordinances. Although the reasoning behind current state preemption efforts can vary, the impact remains the same: tying the hands of local lawmakers and preventing them from providing the protections they know match their residents’ values and are needed in their communities.

MAP’s latest report, The Power of State Preemption: Preventing Progress and Threatening Equality, shows the spread and impact of these efforts, both across the country and across a wide range of issues including LGBT equality. This report was developed in partnership with A Better BalanceEquality Federation, Family Values @ Work, and the Local Solutions Support Center.

In the absence of state leadership to protect LGBT people from discrimination, local ordinances have been instrumental stepping stones toward statewide nondiscrimination protections. Yet, anti-LGBT activists have leveraged preemption efforts to target LGBT equality in at least two key ways:  hindering local nondiscrimination ordinances (often by targeting transgender people and restricting restroom access), and preventing cities from banning harmful conversion therapy practices used against LGBT youth.

 

However, state preemption isn’t only an LGBT issue. More than 20 states have preemption laws that prevent cities from increasing their local minimum wage or from guaranteeing local workers paid sick leave. Nine states forbid cities from passing sanctuary city ordinances or taking other similar measures to protect their immigrant residents–and in 2017 alone, 33 more states considered similar bills preventing pro-immigrant policies. When preemption is used in this way–to set a maximum rather than minimum level of protections–there are drastic consequences for cities and states alike, including:

  • Leaving residents open to discrimination
  • Placing special interests and profits over local residents
  • Hurting workers, and especially low-income communities
  • Limiting cities’ abilities to create diverse, thriving local economics
  • Hamstringing local officials’ ability to do what is right for their cities

Majority of LGBT Americans Can Now Get an Accurate Birth Certificate Without Burdensome Requirements

Thanks to recent updates in Idaho and Florida, 51% of LGBT adults now live in states that issue new birth certificates without requiring sex reassignment surgery or a court order. Previously transgender people in these states had to provide proof of “sexual reassignment surgery,” while those living in Idaho could not get an updated birth certificate.  Now transgender people in Florida can provide a letter from a medical provider asserting they have undergone transition-related care to change their gender marker. In Idaho, transgender people must complete paperwork, and have it notarized—a simple and straightforward process.

The changes in these states are major milestones in the fight for equality for transgender and gender nonconforming people.

Official identity documents—such as drivers’ licenses, birth certificates, and passports—that do not match a transgender person’s gender identity greatly complicate that person’s life. According to the United States Transgender Survey, nearly one-third (32%) of respondents who have shown an ID with a name or gender that did not match their gender presentation were verbally harassed, denied benefits or service, asked to leave, or assaulted. A recent ad produced by MAP called “Movie Theater” depicts how transgender people can experience harassment, discrimination and denial of equal treatment in places of public accommodation. In it, a transgender man is the subject of harassment because his gender marker on his drivers’ license does not match his gender identity.

Thirty-one states either require proof of surgery, a court order, or have unclear policies regarding updating the gender markers on birth certificates. For some transgender people, requiring surgery is neither affordable nor desirable. And another three states do not allow for amending the gender marker on the birth certificate.

By eliminating this requirement for updating their birth certificates, these 16 states and the District of Columbia are making it easier for transgender people to go about their daily lives and to exist equally.

Read more about the updated requirements from Equality Florida: http://www.eqfl.org/transactionfl/birth-certificates and Lambda Legal: https://www.lambdalegal.org/blog/20180406_idaho-makes-history

Click here to visit MAP’s updated equality maps page to see where your state stands on identity document laws and policies, including requirements for updating gender markers: http://www.lgbtmap.org/equality-maps/identity_document_laws 

NEW REPORT: A Prescription for Disaster

MAP is sounding the alarm. Did you know there is a coordinated and widespread push to pass a variety of religious exemptions laws that would give medical professionals a license to discriminate against their patients? The Trump Administration, in particular, has made a dramatic effort to insert religious refusals into peoples’ health care. Earlier this year, the Administration’s announced a new Conscience and Religious Freedom Division within the Department of Health and Human Services, and 

proposed rules that seek to radically expand the ability of health care providers and institutions to deny patients care based on religious or moral beliefs. And tomorrow, March 27, the comment period this dangerous new proposed rule closes. Click here to share your story with the Trump Administration and let them know that personal beliefs should never override patient care.

These religious refusal laws are undermining the very foundation of our medical system, which should be to put patients first and to do no harm.

To bring attention to the coordinated strategy to insert religious refusals into the health care of millions of people, the Movement Advancement Project (MAP) and the National Center for Transgender Equality released a new report, Religious Refusals in Health Care: A Prescription for Disaster. This new report examines the impact of religious refusals on people’s health and wellbeing, and showcases the broad and dangerous implications of these refusals on LGBT people, women, people of color, low-income people, religious minorities, and more.

What can happen when health providers are able to refuse treatment and choose which patients they wish to serve?

  • Creating a health care system when patients’ health comes second to health care providers’ personal beliefs.
  • Restricting access to a wide range of reproductive health care, including emergency care.
  • Allowing healthcare providers to limit information shared with patients
  • Refusing health care for patients because of who they are, including women, transgender people, LGBT people, and children of LGBT parents.
  • Permitting refusals of care for sexual health, including sexually-transmitted infection and HIV-related health care.

Click here to learn more about how religious refusals are comprising patient health: Religious Refusals in Health Care: A Prescription for Disaster

NEW AD: 50 Years Later: Will We Go Back?

Fifty years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court issued one of its fastest rulings ever in a landmark case, Newman v. Piggie Park Enterprises. Piggie Park, a small barbeque chain which is still open today, wanted the right to refuse service to African American customers. The owner, a segregationist, claimed that the Civil Rights Act violated his religious freedom.

The Supreme Court delivered a resounding rebuke of the barbecue chain on March 18, 1968, definitively ruling that the restaurant could no longer discriminate.

Sound familiar? That’s because it is.

Now, fifty years later, in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. The Colorado Civil Rights Commission, a Colorado bakery that discriminated against a gay couple in violation of Colorado law is claiming it should be exempt from the state’s nondiscrimination law due to the religious beliefs of its owner.

To mark the fifty-year anniversary of the Piggie Park decision, the Open to All campaign, MAP, and the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights released a new ad, “Will We Go Back?,” that looks at how a current case before the Supreme Court threatens this historic ruling. The ad was released as part of Open to All Week, March 12-18, commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of the landmark decision. Learn more about the Piggie Park case and how creating a constitutional license to discriminate in Masterpiece could undermine that historic ruling against discrimination.

Read the story in the Huffington Post “Supreme Court’s Cake Case Could Set America Back 50 Years, Activists Warn

A win for the bakery in Masterpiece threatens the historic legacy of the Piggie Park decision, and could take us back to a shameful era in our nation’s history, an era where businesses could claim a right to discriminate as they see fit—not just for LGBT people, but for people of color, minority faiths, people with disabilities, and women.

Businesses and their owners have a right to their religious beliefs—but that freedom shouldn’t give businesses a license to discriminate.

Take Action:

  • WATCH “Will We Go Back?” and share on social media. Visit www.opentoall.com/sharefor all the shareable Open to All resources.
  • READ about the parallels between the cases and why Masterpiece has the potential to alter our nation’s civil rights laws in “50 Years Ago vs. Today: Piggie Park & The High Stakes of the Masterpiece Cakeshop Case”
  • VOICE your support for Open to All Week over social media throughout the week with the hashtag #OpentoAllWeek. And follow Open to All on Twitter and Facebook for new content throughout the week.
  • SIGN UP for breaking news, ways to take action in the Masterpiece Cakeshop case, and to add your support for the Open to All Coalition.
  • SIGN the ACLU’s People’s Petition and tell the Supreme Court to reject discrimination.
  • DONATE and support more ads like “Will We Go Back?”

Two New Rulings Affirm LGBT Discrimination is Prohibited Under Federal Law

 

 

 

 

 

 

Discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity is sex discrimination.

So says two federal courts in the span of one week. On February 28, 2018, the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals issued a ruling in the case of Zarda v. Altitude Express. The Court found that Title VII, a federal law, protects people from being discriminated against in the workplace because of their sexual orientation. More specifically, the Court found that employment discrimination on the basis of sex includes discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

And then on March 7, 2018, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in the case of a funeral home director who was fired after telling her employer that she was transitioning from male to female. The case, Stephens v. R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes, affirmed previous rulings from the 6th Circuit that discrimination based on gender identity was prohibited discrimination under Title VII’s prohibition on sex discrimination. The funeral home also claimed that they were exempt from the law because of their religious beliefs, and the Court rejected that claim.

MAP updated its Title VII explainer to reflect these rulings—in which the the 2nd Circuit Court became the second federal court of appeals to make such a ruling in a sexual orientation case.

So, what does Title VII cover, and why is this important to LGBT people? What does sex discrimination have to do with discrimination against LGBT people?

Title VII is a federal civil rights law that protects people from being discriminated against in employment because of their sex, race, religion, and other characteristics. Federal law does not explicitly list “sexual orientation” or “gender identity” as protected categories, but—as shown in our updated infographic—many federal courts and agencies argue that discrimination on the basis of “sex” covers LGBT people anyway. Here’s why.

When someone is discriminated against for being LGBT, that discrimination is a form of sex discrimination because “but for” their sex, they would not face such discrimination. Take the example of a lesbian being fired after being seen holding hands with her wife. If she were a man, she would not be fired. “But for” her being a woman, she would not have experienced that discrimination. The same is true for workers are who are seen as qualified until they begin a gender transition and then are discriminated against for being transgender. “But for” their gender, they would not have faced such discrimination.

Title VII’s prohibition on discrimination based on sex is not only about one’s sex, but also about sex stereotypes and whether one adheres to those stereotypes. The Supreme Court has held that illegal discrimination on the basis of sex includes discrimination on the basis of sex stereotypes and whether a person adheres to those stereotypes. For example, discrimination based on sexual orientation rests on the stereotype that men are or should be attracted only to women, and that women are or should be attracted only to men. Similarly, gender identity discrimination is sex discrimination because it is rooted in views that transgender or gender nonconforming people don’t fit the idea of how a man or woman “should” be. Discriminating against an employee who fails to conform to stereotypes in the workplace, including hair style and style of dress, is discrimination based on sex because the discrimination is rooted in stereotypes about how men and women should appear, act, and dress.

And protections under Title VII are vital for LGBT people because they face frequent discrimination. For example, one-quarter of LGBT people reportedpersonally experienced discrimination at work in the past year alone because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, and 27% of transgender people said they had been fired, not hired, or denied a promotion in the past year.

The positive decision in Mr. Zarda’s case in the 2nd Circuit Court and in Aimee Stephen’s case in the 6th Circuit are extremely important for LGBT people around the country. In many states, as well as under federal law, there are no explicit protections for LGBT people in the workplace.

These decisions strengthen the growing number of judicial decisions recognizing that protections against sex discrimination include protections for LGBT people.

Donate here to support MAP as we continue to track and support ongoing court cases and conduct research to speed equality for LGBT people!

 

NEW AD: “Movie Theater”

Today, MAP released a new ad “Movie Theater,” showing the all-too-common experience of transgender people around the country, who can face daily discrimination, harassment, and denial of equal treatment in public places.

This ad accompanies MAP’s latest report, LGBT Policy Spotlight: Public Accommodations Nondiscrimination Laws, which provides a comprehensive overview of the gaps in nondiscrimination laws for LGBT people in public spaces—and the devastating impact of the lack of protections.

The report highlights that discrimination is pervasive. In fact, the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey found that 31% of transgender respondents reported experiencing discrimination in places of public accommodations in the past year alone when staff knew or thought they were transgender.

As the Supreme Court prepares to issue a ruling in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, public places have become the next battleground in the fight for full equality for LGBT people. The core issue is whether public accommodations—places of business, public transit, hotels, restaurants, taxi cabs and more—can refuse service to people just because of who they are or whom they love.

As a nation, we decided a long time ago that businesses and services that are open to the public should be open to all. Nobody should be turned away simply because of who they are.