The LGBT community has significant protections in the state of California compared to workers in many other jurisdictions. While California law offers protection against discrimination to the LGBT employees, additional protections may become available since President Barack Obama announced a decision to pass a federal executive order. Under the new measure, government contractors would be required to prohibit workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
Discrimination of federal employees is prohibited and a handful of states also extend legal protections to both public and private sector employees. Even in California where state laws extend anti-discrimination protections to the LGBT community, the executive order would offer an additional layer of protection. Our Orange County employment law attorneys are committed to helping members of the LGBT community protect their rights. In addition to taking on discrimination cases on behalf of employees, we are also abreast of state and federal legal developments that may impact LGBT worker rights.
Advocates see the executive order as an additional protection against employers who are not following state laws. There are over 14 million Americans who live and work in states where there are no LGBT protections. Another 11 million live and work in a state where there are no protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation. Research indicates that 21 percent of LGBT employees have felt that they were discriminated against or treated unfairly because of their gender identity or sexual orientation.
The executive order has drawn criticism and some groups have claimed that the measure would interfere with the employer’s ability to assess an employee. Critics have also stated that the White House action would increase the potential for litigation. Currently, California law protects workers from discrimination based on sexual orientation. In 2004, the Fair Employment and Housing Act added additional protections against sexual orientation, gender identity and transgendered discrimination. Even in California, the law only extends to businesses with more than five employees. The executive order could extend additional protections by applying to all companies that contract with the federal government.
Companies that contract with the federal government would also have an incentive to comply because they would be barred from future contracts in the event of a violation. Advocates say that the executive order would strengthen and empower the federal government to enforce laws that are already active in California. For many companies, the loss of government contracts could be an incentive that will be more effective than facing penalties arising out of California state law.
The LGBT community in California continues to face discrimination despite state law protections. The executive order has the potential to extend additional protections to employees of private companies who contract with the federal government. Individuals who have suffered from discrimination should have a clear understanding of the law and their rights. In the event of discrimination in the workplace, employees should consult with an experienced advocate who can review the facts, identify the best course of action, and pursue every available opportunity to achieve justice. Victims of discrimination may be entitled to compensation and other forms of relief.
Employment lawsuits can be filed with assistance from the Nassiri Law Group, practicing in Los Angeles, Riverside, and Orange County. Call 714-937-2020.
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