Many US states don’t have LGBTQ worker protections
While the Supreme Court is deliberating whether the LGBTQ employees are protected under the Civil Rights Act, many US states do not provide LGBTQ worker protections.
According to Associated Press, 28 US states don’t have laws that prohibit workplace discrimination that target LGBTQ employees.
In fact, only a small percentage of cities and counties provide protection for LGBTQ workers at the local level.
Status quo of LGBTQ worker protections
Presently, the US Supreme Court is hearing cases that deal with the firing of gay men in Georgia and New York state, as well as a transgender woman in Michigan.
The issue revolves around whether firings and harassment based on a worker’s sexual orientation or gender identity qualify as sex discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.
Since 2015, the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has treated LGBTQ-based job discrimination cases as sex discrimination.
If the high court rules that federal law doesn’t protect workers because they’re gay or transgender, that means millions more could be vulnerable in more than half of US states.
Jillian Weiss, a New York attorney focusing on LGBTQ discrimination cases, said the community has “to be really cautious and careful about living their lives openly and proudly” if the high court rules against them.
“They may encounter a lot of discrimination, and there may not be anything they can do about it,” Weiss added.
LGBTQ worker protections at state and local levels
An analysis conducted by the Associated Press found that only 21 states have their own laws prohibiting job discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
For example, Wisconsin bans discrimination because of sexual orientation. However, they don’t offer protection for transgender workers.
Meanwhile, less than 300 cities and counties only have local ordinances that protect LGBTQ workers.
There is an estimated 8.1 million LGBTQ employees. Half of them live in states that don’t provide job protection, according to the UCLA School of Law’s Williams Institute.
The South, in particular, are home to an estimated 35 percent of LGBTQ adults, noted the Associated Press.
In this area, only Maryland and Delaware among the 16 states ban discrimination against gay and transgender workers.
Likewise, South Carolina doesn’t offer protection at the state or local level while North Carolina and Tennessee have passed laws blocking local governments to pass anti-discrimination ordinances.
Marriage equality means losing jobs
LGBTQ rights advocates said that as more gay couples get openly married, they may face harassment at work for doing so.
If the high court rules that federal law doesn’t protect them from harassment, this may prove hypocritical and ironic, given that the Supreme Court had also declared same-sex marriage legal in 2015.
As one lawyer stated: “You get married on Saturday and fired on Monday, and there’s no protection.”