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Gender identity is now protected by the Civil Rights Act of 1964

Protection from discrimination lawsuits is critical for businesses in Florida. However, even for the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, interpreting and enforcing the Civil Rights Act of 1964 can be complicated. In the past, the word “sex” has been interpreted as “gender” and has been applied to the fair treatment of women in the workplace. A recent EEOC ruling has broadened the scope of the word “sex,” so it now shields people of any gender identity or sexual orientation from workplace discrimination, as well.

Activists are urging workers in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community to pursue litigation if they feel they have been victims of discrimination at work. In this way, they hope to expand the scope of the agency’s action. Although the EEOC decision creates a precedent for federal courts when ruling on discrimination cases in the workplace, it is not supported by federal law at this time.

While 22 states have passed laws to officially ban workplace discrimination against members of the LGBT community, the majority have not. Still, federal law does already prohibit discrimination against these groups in many other situations, making it more likely for workers to be successful when pursuing employment litigation.

Preventing discrimination of any kind is a primary goal for employers. Clear policies and procedures and monitoring of employee and management behaviors can provide the impetus for a workplace where all employees are treated fairly. An attorney may be able to help analyze company practices and provide legal support in the event of a lawsuit.

Source: The Market Business, “Workplace discrimination for gays not legal anymore, U.S. agency issues rules!” Donald V. Morris, July 18, 2015

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