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LGBTQ Employment Rights and the Ohio Fairness Act

written by Daniel Bryant

people march for ohio valley lgbtq pride month

June is Pride Month, a time when the LGBTQ community comes together to celebrate their strength in spite of the decades of hardship and discrimination they have faced for just being themselves and loving the people they love, from the Stonewall riots to the AIDS crisis.

Sadly, LGBTQ discrimination is still an issue even in 2021, but there have been many landmark improvements over the years that allow for legal recourse in the event you believe you have been discriminated against because of your sexual orientation.

Bryant Legal LLC recognizes the incredible resilience the LGBTQ community has and is here to help its members when they face certain types of discrimination. We hope to help you better understand your LGBTQ employment rights if should you ever experience discrimination in the workplace and would be honored to present you in a case if your employment rights are violated.

Can I be illegally discriminated against based on my sexual orientation or gender identity?

No. On June 15, 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the 1964 Civil Rights Act protects gay, lesbian, and transgender employees from discrimination based on sex. 

The 1964 Civil Rights Act does not directly state that these characteristics were protected from sex-based discrimination, so the fact that the Supreme Court stated that these identities fall under the umbrella of sex discrimination is important

The federal and Ohio state governments are also considering passing laws that would protect the LGBTQ community from more types of discrimination.

What’s the difference between the Equality Act and the Ohio Fairness Act?

The Equality Act

The Equality Act is a bill that would amend that 1964 Civil Rights Act and make it so it is explicitly stated that discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity is illegal. This would apply to more than just employment discrimination and would ensure that LGBTQ people would have equal protection against discrimination, just as anyone else in the United States does.

The Equality Act would also trump the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), which means people whose religious beliefs may not approve of same-sex couples or transgender people cannot deny LGBTQ people housing, goods, and services on the basis of their religion and use RFRA as a defense for doing so.

The U.S. House passed the Equality Act on February 25, 2021, but it faces an uphill battle in the Senate.

The Ohio Fairness Act

The Ohio Fairness Act, or OH SB 119, is a bill that would make it illegal to discriminate against gay, lesbian, and transgender people throughout the state of Ohio.

If that the Equality Act does not make it through the U.S. Senate, the Ohio Fairness Act would ensure that discrimination against LGBTQ people in Ohio would be illegal.

Compared to the federal Equality Act, the Ohio Fairness Act does provide greater protection for LGBTQ people as it would apply to employers with more than 4 people (federal anti-discrimination laws apply to businesses with more than 50 employees). However, there are religious exemptions to the Ohio Fairness Act, which would allow religious organizations to discriminate in certain situations.

Despite partisan support for the Ohio Fairness Act, it’s unclear if this bill will pass a chamber, as the last time a similar bill passed a chamber, it was in 2009, when Democrats were in control of the Ohio House

What are some examples of LGBTQ employment discrimination?

  • Being fired after publicly transitioning or coming out
  • The retraction of a job offer after an employer reviews social media posts that show you and your same-sex partner together or posts revealing your transition
  • Being asked inappropriate questions about your sex life or genitals, offensive remarks about clothing, inappropriate touching, etc., to the degree it affects your ability to work effectively; retaliating against you for reporting the sexual harassment to HR by passing you over for a promotion you’ve earned, being excluded from meetings that would improve your position, change in compensation, etc. (hostile work environment sexual harassment)
  • Being asked to transfer positions (i.e., being asked to move from your public-facing position to a different department after starting to transition)
  • Being treated unfavorably due to your sexual orientation or gender identity, such as being denied or deprived of opportunities that could lead to a promotion or better pay

Bryant Legal LLC is here to protect LGBTQ employment rights

If you believe you have experienced any of the above situations, contact Bryant Legal LLC today. We can help you determine whether or not you would be able to pursue legal action against your employer due to LGBTQ discrimination. Contact us today for a consultation or to request more information.