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How to Discriminate Against Gays and Get Away with It

How to Discriminate Against Gays and Get Away with It

A recently introduced Louisiana bill would define away the LGBT community’s right to sue over anti-LGBT workplace discrimination and, in identifying those suits as “frivolous,” would effectively reward discriminatory companies by making it easier for them to claim damages if such suits were attempted.

Introduced by Republican Rep. Alan Seabaugh, HB 402 would mean that “suits filed for employment discrimination for any reason other than age, disability, race, color, religion, sex, national origin, pregnancy, childbirth and related medical conditions, sickle cell trait, and genetic discrimination shall be dismissed and considered frivolous.”

Notice the definite lack of sexual orientation and gender identity protections? Given this bill would supersede local nondiscrimination ordinances and that Louisiana has no other LGBT-inclusive workers’ rights language on the books, it’s not escaped state equality group Louisiana Equality’s notice either.

“In reality, this bill is a stealth attempt to punish workers who file suit for reasons not contained in the quoted list, particularly workers who attempt to sue for discrimination based on actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression,” the group writes in its memo on the bill.

Rep. Seabaugh has been quiet about the bill since its introduction but, to give you a snapshot of Seabaugh’s views, he voted against an anti-bullying bill in 2011 because he believed, and despite their being nothing in the text to substantiate this, that it would “force teaching alternative lifestyles to our children.” He went on, “Every person who testified…was either gay or testifying on behalf of someone who is gay, so let’s not delude ourselves about the intent of this bill…[it] is straight out of the lesbian, gay, transgender playbook.”

We could quibble that Seabaugh’s bill just about covers everyone with its “genetic discrimination” clause. We could also point out that “sex” might cover gender identity but that would be up to the courts to decide and certainly finds no support among Louisiana’s current laws, even if the Obama administration has been very clear that federal law does cover trans identity discrimination in the workplace.

Regardless, the intent of the bill is clear: it names just about every other possible enumerated class except for LGBTs and then says all suits outside of its list should be considered frivolous.

Chiefly, the bill is built around the lie that Louisiana, or any state for that matter, faces a crisis due to being overwhelmed by a slew of workers filing frivolous discrimination lawsuits. Nowhere in America is that evidenced, and especially not where LGBT rights is concerned.

Furthermore, the bill almost certainly will create a lawsuit because it broadly violates Title VII by attempting to block workers from exercising their right to judicial appeal in the face of unfair dismissal or treatment in the workplace.

Then there’s the issue of making the victim of anti-gay discrimination pay.

Equality Louisiana points out that if an LGBT worker did attempt legal action, this legislation combined with existing law would mean their suit would be dismissed as frivolous. Under such conditions that worker could then be liable for damages claimed by their discriminating employers, as well as court costs — in essence, the bill would not only serve to facilitate employers who discriminate in this fashion, it could effectively reward them should they ever be challenged.

Bruce Parker, Director of Outreach and Community Engagement at Louisiana Progress, is quoted as saying the bill is simply a waste of time.

“With all of the problems facing the state, it is fascinating to me that we’re solving a problem that isn’t a problem,” said Parker. “It’s not like the courts are clogged up with LGBT discrimination cases.”

The bill currently sits waiting to be taken up in the state House’s Committee on Labor and Industrial Relations. It is unclear at this time whether there is any appetite to pass the bill, but it does underscore why LGBT-inclusive federal legislation such as the Employment Non-Discrimination Act is so necessary.

 

Related Reading:

Sent Home From School for “Some Kids R Gay. That’s OK” T-Shirt

Louisiana School Stops Forced Pregnancy Tests

Gay Man Arrested for Trying to Visit Husband in Hospital

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Image Credit: Thinkstock.

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346 comments

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8:29PM PDT on Jun 15, 2013

Can't understand why anyone is concerned about anyone else's sexuality. I firmly believe in different strokes for different folks. You stay out of my bedroom, and I will stay out of yours.

7:59AM PDT on Jun 13, 2013

thanks

10:29AM PDT on May 6, 2013

Mark S. 11:00PM PDT on Apr 25, 2013
I wish I could give you a thousand stars, but I'm limited to only one!

10:26AM PDT on May 6, 2013

Let's hear it for ENDA!
BTW, all these republicans introducing discriminatory legislation against gays; How far in the closet are they?

7:52AM PDT on May 6, 2013

This topic doesn't concern me, I have experienced discrimination from lesbians which is why I did not check the box on gender preference as an update on information.

4:32AM PDT on Apr 29, 2013

what the hell

8:27AM PDT on Apr 28, 2013

ty

1:01AM PDT on Apr 28, 2013

Oh my... I so wish that we can move on SOON,and that sickos stop creating problems that dont have to be a problem... there is so many problems in this world that need to be solved,if we "all" could just concentrate on that instead and work towards abetter world for humans, animals, the enviroment etc- but I cant understand why LGTB issues should even "be a problem" in the first place.. SICK.. Thanks for the article.

8:35PM PDT on Apr 27, 2013

I'm from the N.W. and feel very lucky and congradulate the States stance on LBGTQ.rights. One could argue sex or genetic discremination but to close the loop hole, it must be worded to include LBGTQ. I visited LA. about a year ago and was shocked at how folks, even family responded with termaknowlge that out here would create violent reaction. I am also amazed that the LBGTQ community gets hit with ; if we're recognized with the right to marry. to not be discriminated against as others have the rights. we damage or taint the traditional family values. What a joke and the hippocrittes that push such crap; Well there the ones in the news, there the ones being busted for braking down Family cohesion being adultress, condeming LBGTQs for preverse acts but being busted in bathrooms for those very acts or taking trips to impovrished countries to act out there perverse acts so no one will know. Sorry I realize that is a bit beyond the topic BUT WHO are they to judge or creat laws????

12:03PM PDT on Apr 27, 2013

Thank you for revealing the truth. I will continue to publicly support the LGBT community in honor of my brother. (P, T)

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