Being that it’s 2017, many of us like to believe that we’re no longer living in a period where discrimination exists. Now that gay marriage has been legal for a few years, it seems like we’re on the right track to providing equal opportunities to individuals throughout the entire country.
Unfortunately, this isn’t necessarily always the case. Given the recent order that the trans community will no longer be accepted into the military, some of us are taking a step back to examine if discrimination is still running rampant — particularly for those in the LGBTI+ community.
Discrimination in the workplace still appears for a number of minorities, but is it a problem for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans community?
The answer, sadly, is yes — and they may not even be protected from it.
Employment Discrimination and the LGBTI+ Community
According to the Trump administration’s Department of Justice, an employer is legally allowed to fire an employee for being gay or they can choose not to hire an applicant strictly because that individual is gay. Paired with the barring of transgender individuals from the military, many people are left wondering how we didn’t do all that we could to ensure the LGBTI+ community was adequately protected.
Just about everyone knows that you cannot be discriminated against in the workplace for your gender, religion, race or ethnicity. Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, employers are prohibited from discriminating against employees and applicants on the basis of their race, color, religion, national origin, and sex. However, you’ll notice that this list does not include sexual orientation.
Some states do have their own laws preventing discrimination against the gay or trans community. Unfortunately, the majority of states have no protections at all, although some states, including Pennsylvania, Florida and Michigan, are currently trying to pass bills expanding protections to LGBTI+ individuals.
New York, New Hampshire and Wisconsin all prohibit discrimination against sexual orientation, but do not have specific laws protecting discrimination based on gender identity. Eighteen additional states, including California, Illinois, Massachusetts and Colorado, all have protections in place prohibiting discrimination based on both sexual orientation and gender identity.
Two states, Tennessee and Arkansas, actually have laws in place restricting passage or enforcement of any local nondiscrimination laws aimed at protecting the LGBTI+ community.
Protecting the LGBTI+ Community
Discrimination in the workplace can be a difficult topic to fully understand. While we like to believe it is a thing of the past, the truth is that many individuals and communities continue to be discriminated against when doing something as simple as trying to get a job. For those in the LGBTI+ community, they know all too well that this is true.
Ensuring that the LGBTI+ community gets the protection they need from workplace discrimination begins with staying aware and educated about the topic. Instead of assuming they are given the same rights as everyone else, it’s important to stay up on the news and current events to fully understand the decisions that are being made and the laws that are being passed.
Additionally, get involved and make your voice heard. Contact representatives, get friends on board. Heck, even organize peaceful protests and demonstrations if you can. We can and should be doing everything possible to support those that are still facing discrimination.