A couple of months ago, in this Greenbelt Employment Law Blog, we discussed a bill that had been introduced in the U.S. Senate that would ban employment discrimination based on one's sexual orientation. As we mentioned in that post, many Maryland residents may not even be aware that this type of employment discrimination is not yet outlawed by the federal government.
Twenty-nine states, including Maryland, have passed laws that make it illegal for employers to discriminate against employees due to their sexual orientation, and a recent survey shows that the majority of Americans think that federal law should bar this type of discrimination as well.
The poll, performed by HuffPost/YouGov, found that 52 percent of Americans are in favor of a federal law that would prohibit employers from discriminating against gay and lesbian employees and applicants.
While this is only a slight majority, the poll's results show that many Americans are not aware that such discrimination is not already outlawed. Sixty-five percent of the poll's respondents said that it is against federal law for an employer to fire a person for being gay or lesbian.
Of course, this is actually not yet outlawed.
It remains to be seen whether federal lawmakers will act to add sexual orientation to its list of protected classifications under anti-discrimination law. For now, those in Maryland who are treated unfairly during the hiring process or in the workplace due to their sexual orientation or gender identity may be able to seek legal recourse under state law.
Those who reside in states that have not banned this kind of discrimination should also seek legal counsel if they are discriminated against. In certain cases, it may still be possible to hold the employer accountable under anti-discrimination and harassment laws.
Source: Huffington Post, "Workplace Discrimination Poll Finds Most Favor Law Pirotecting Gays, Lesbians," June 22, 2013