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Federal legislation could protect LGBT employees

The LGBT community scored a major victory when the United States Supreme Court ruled that state laws denying the right for same sex couples to marry were unconstitutional. For those who were shocked by the ruling, there were signs of that possibility in prior rulings; specifically the 2014 ruling in U.S. v. Windsor, where the Court held that provisions of the Defense of Marriage Act were unconstitutional. This allowed the widow of a woman who left the balance of her estate to her to avoid paying federal estate taxes.

These rulings are also important in the context of employment law, because the signify a pattern in recognizing equality with same sex couples. Currently federal law does not prohibit employers from discriminating against employees on the basis of their sexual orientation, but there are signs that this may change.

According to a recent USA Today report, proposed legislation has been introduced in Congress that would essentially extend the protections provided through Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act to gay, lesbian and transgender employees. The  proposed Equality Act currently has 168 co-sponsors in the House of Representatives and 39 co-sponsors in the Senate. With such widespread support, it is reasonable to believe that action will be taken on the bill fairly soon.

In fact, there are 22 states, as well as the District of Columbia, that have laws prohibiting employers from taking adverse employment actions against employees based on sexual orientation. Also, President Obama issued an executive order last year to protect federal LGBT employees.

So if you have questions about California’s anti-discrimination laws, an experienced attorney can advise you. 

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