“Transformation of LGBT Protections in Employment Law,” an article written by Meredith Schramm-Strosser and Joy Einstein, member of the Employment and Labor Law practice group at Shulman Rogers, was published in The Advocate, a quarterly newsletter produced for the members of the Young Lawyers Section of the Maryland State Bar Association.
While Caitlyn Jenner may have spring-boarded transgender rights issues into the pop culture spotlight, federal courts, state courts, and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) still take varying positions on whether gender identity, as well as sexual orientation, should be protected characteristics alongside race, religion, age, disability, and a host of other protected classifications.
On June 26, 2015, the Supreme Court announced its decision in Obergefell v. Hodges legalizing same-sex marriage across the country based on the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment. What was undoubtedly an historic day and an immeasurably important step in the direction of equal rights for members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (“LGBT”) community was dampened by the realization that, in many localities and states, LGBT-identifying persons legally can be fired based on their sexual orientation or gender identity alone. This is because the statutory text of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 does not specifically identify “sexual orientation” or “gender identity” as a “protected class.” Without “protected class” status, federal law does not explicitly prohibit employers from discriminating against or terminating an employee based on gender identity or sexual orientation. In the wake of Obergefell, the topic of whether to expand current (or enact new) anti-discrimination laws prohibiting discrimination based on gender identity and/or sexual orientation is an important, and evolving, issue.
Read the full article at MSBA.org.
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