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LGBTQ Worker Protection to Continue under Trump Administration

On January 31, 2017, the White House announced that President Obama’s 2014 executive order protecting employees from anti-LGBTQ discrimination will continue to be enforced under the Trump administration.

Signed in July 2014, Obama’s executive order prohibits federal contractors from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. Specifically, it amended Executive Order 11246, issued by President Lyndon B. Johnson, to add sexual orientation and gender identity to the list of protected categories in the existing executive order covering federal contractors.

How the EEOC Protects LGBTQ Workers

Although Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 does not explicitly cover LGBTQ employees, the EEOC interprets and enforces the Act’s prohibition of sex discrimination as forbidding any employment discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation.

Title VII applies to all private sector and state and local government employers with at least 15 employees. EEOC protections apply regardless of any contrary state or local laws.

Examples of LGBTQ-related claims which the EEOC views as unlawful sex discrimination include

  • Denying an employee a promotion because of sexual orientation
  • Harassing an employee over sexual orientation or because of a gender transition
  • Firing an employee because of plans to make a gender transition
  • Refusing to hire an applicant because of a past gender transition
  • Discriminating in terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, such as paying a lower salary or denying health benefits, based on sexual orientation
  • Denying an employee equal access to a common restroom corresponding to the employee’s gender identity

In the past three years, the number of LGBTQ-based sex discrimination claims submitted to the EEOC has more than doubled, from 808 in 2013 to 1,768 in 2016. In 2016 alone, $4.4 million was paid out to LGBTQ employees whose claims were found to be valid.

LGBTQ Employee Rights in Texas

Currently Texas state law does not protect employees from discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. The cities of Dallas, Austin, Fort Worth, and Plano have issued ordinances prohibiting discrimination of this type in matters of employment with city government and with city contractors. The cities of Brownsville, Houston, and Waco have issued protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity for city employment only.

For More Information

To learn more about protection for LGBTQ employees, visit the following EEOC resources: