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Report: law needed to ban a form of workplace discrimination

It’s time for the federal government to do more than talk the talk. It’s time for Washington to walk the walk and pass a law prohibiting workplace discrimination against federal workers based on sexual orientation, the independent Merit Systems Protection Board says in a new report.

While that form of discrimination has been against government policy for more than three decades, the policy has been unevenly applied, the MSPB report states. A new law would codify and clarify the policy, enabling federal employees to take sexual orientation discrimination complaints to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

A Washington Post report on the MSPB review says that before 1975, it was government policy to include a job applicant’s sexual orientation among suitability factors in hiring.

The board concedes that it’s impossible to know how many people have been denied jobs or been fired from their federal jobs “based on their actual or assumed sexual orientation.” The report does cite an estimate that between 7,000 and 10,000 people were affected by this form of discrimination in just the 1950s.

The board also concedes that it’s impossible to know how many people declined to apply for federal jobs because they knew "that their sexual orientation made them ineligible for selection.”

It’s heartening to learn that when the MSPB surveyed federal workers in 2010, only approximately 1 percent said they had been discriminated against on the basis of their sexual orientation.

Of course, this form of bias exists in the private workplace as well. Anyone in Washington D.C. or Maryland who has been a victim of workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation should speak with an employment law attorney experienced in the protection of employee rights. 

Source: Washington Post, "Report urges new law against gay bias in federal workplace," Joe Davidson, May 7, 2014

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