September 29, 2020

Volume X, Number 273

September 29, 2020

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September 28, 2020

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The Equality Act: Legislation Introduced in Congress to Prohibit LGBT Discrimination

On July 23, 2015, Democratic Representatives David Cicilline (Rhode Island) and Jeff Merkley (Oregon) introduced in Congress legislation that would create the “Equality Act” (the Act). The Act represents an attempt to create a uniform federal standard that protects all lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Americans from discrimination in seven areas of civil rights law: employment, credit; education; federal funding; housing; jury service; and public accommodations.

LGBT, civil liberties, equality act, protection against discrimination, lesbian gay bisexual transgender

In the employment context, the Act would add sexual orientation and gender identification as protected characteristics under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which currently only protects against employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex and national origin. The introduction of the Act comes on the heels of the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) published guidance stating that Title VII protects against discrimination based on sexual orientation and transgender status. Importantly, the Act would leave existing religious exemptions intact.

Given the current political makeup of Congress, it is unlikely that the Act will become law. In any event, stay tuned for additional developments regarding the Equality Act.

Copyright © 2020 Godfrey & Kahn S.C.National Law Review, Volume V, Number 210


About this Author

Rufino Gaytán, Labor & Employment Attorney, Godfrey Kahn Law Firm "

Rufino Gaytán is an associate member of the firm's Labor & Employment Practice Group in Milwaukee. Rufino assists private and public employers in addressing general human resource issues and counsels employers in every aspect of labor and employment law. In particular, Rufino provides assistance with discrimination claims, wage and hour issues and drafting and enforcing restrictive covenant agreements. Rufino also represents clients before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Wisconsin Equal Rights Division.