New York readers may be interested to learn that the newly Democrat-led House of Representatives passed new employment protections for LGBTQ staff and job applicants on Jan. 3. The new rules, which were part of a larger bill of regulations, will govern the freshly-convened 116th Congress for the next two years.
The bill marks the first time lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender workers have ever been expressly protected from employment discrimination in the House of Representatives. Rep. David Cicilline, D-R.I., one of just eight openly LGBTQ House members, advocated for the new protections, saying it was simply the "right thing to do." Meanwhile, a representative for the national LGBTQ rights organization Human Rights Campaign called the new rules "historic."
Many American LGBTQ workers are already protected from job discrimination by state and local laws, but federal law does not explicitly shield such workers from negative bias in the workplace. That said, multiple federal courts have found that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects LGBTQ workers from employment discrimination. These rulings echo the position of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which has stated that the sex-based protections outlined in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act extend to LGBTQ workers. Many experts expect the issue to eventually land before the U.S. Supreme Court. Other notable rules in the new House bill include a ban on members serving on corporate boards and a requirement that members undergo ethics training each year.
LGBTQ workers facing employment discrimination in New York could contact an employment attorney for help. The attorney could review the situation and, if necessary, help the worker prepare a legal complaint against his or her employer. This complaint could be filed with the appropriate state agency or the EEOC. By taking legal action, the worker could be awarded a settlement for damages.