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Court rulings give greater rights to LGBT community

According to the EEOC, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 forbids workplace discrimination against members of the LGBT community in New York and around the country. This was affirmed by the agency in the 2012 case Macy v. Holder. On a federal level, executive orders from Bill Clinton and Barack Obama made it expressly illegal to discriminate based on these attributes. However, private companies are generally not bound by those orders, and protections are lacking on a national level.

Currently, LGBT employees and job applicants may have protection on the local or state level. In general, workers in "blue states" tend to have more protections than those in "red states." However, this may be changing after decisions such as the one offered by the 11th Circuit in Glenn v. Brumby in 2011. In that case, the court upheld a ruling that the Georgia General Assembly acted in a discriminatory fashion against a man who planned to transition to female.

In addition to that ruling, a Supreme Court ruling in the 1989 Price Waterhouse v. Hopkins case found that gender non-conformity was protected by the Civil Rights Act. These rulings have confirmed that discrimination cannot occur based on gender stereotypes and identity. Two cases currently making their way through the legal system will clarify whether discrimination based on sexual orientation is illegal under current law.

Those who feel as if they have experienced discrimination in the workplace may wish to talk with an attorney in order to see what rights they may have. If discussions with the employer in question have proved to be unfruitful, the next step may be to file a claim with the EEOC or appropriate state agency.

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