Question of the Month

February 2018

Question
In your area, what, if any, anti-discrimination laws protect individuals from being discriminated against on the basis of their sexual orientation?
Answer from Alabama

None in Alabama.

For more information please contact David Middlebrooks at dmiddlebrooks@lehrmiddlebrooks.com

*Disclaimer: All answers to the Question of the Month are current the day on which they are posted. After this date, the information may subsequently change as a result of laws or rulings. For the most current information, please contact the responding lawyer for each state in which you are interested.

Answer from California

The California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) prohibits discrimination and harassment due to sexual orientation in employment.

For more information please contact Michael Foster at mfoster@fosteremploymentlaw.com

*Disclaimer: All answers to the Question of the Month are current the day on which they are posted. After this date, the information may subsequently change as a result of laws or rulings. For the most current information, please contact the responding lawyer for each state in which you are interested.

Answer from Hawaii

Hawaii’s Employment Practices Law, Haw. Rev. Stat. ch. 378, prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation (among other categories).

For more information please contact Sarah Wang at SWang@marrjones.com

*Disclaimer: All answers to the Question of the Month are current the day on which they are posted. After this date, the information may subsequently change as a result of laws or rulings. For the most current information, please contact the responding lawyer for each state in which you are interested.

Answer from Kentucky

There are no Kentucky state laws protecting employees on the basis of their sexual orientation. Eight Kentucky cities have such protections: Louisville, Lexington, Covington, Danville, Frankfort, Morehead, Vicco and Midway.

For more information please contact Jacob Crouse at jwc@smithandsmithattorneys.com

*Disclaimer: All answers to the Question of the Month are current the day on which they are posted. After this date, the information may subsequently change as a result of laws or rulings. For the most current information, please contact the responding lawyer for each state in which you are interested.

Answer from Maryland

Maryland state law specifically prohibits sexual orientation discrimination.

For more information please contact Fiona Ong at fwo@shawe.com

*Disclaimer: All answers to the Question of the Month are current the day on which they are posted. After this date, the information may subsequently change as a result of laws or rulings. For the most current information, please contact the responding lawyer for each state in which you are interested.

Answer from Massachusetts

MGL ch. 151B protects individuals from discrimination based on sexual orientation.

For more information please contact Marylou Fabbo at mfabbo@skoler-abbott.com

*Disclaimer: All answers to the Question of the Month are current the day on which they are posted. After this date, the information may subsequently change as a result of laws or rulings. For the most current information, please contact the responding lawyer for each state in which you are interested.

Answer from Michigan

A. Michigan’s Elliott Larsen Civil Rights Act does not expressly include sexual orientation as a protected class, and no case has yet extended its protections to sexual orientation.

B. Approximately 45 municipalities have passed ordinances prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, but they vary with respect to coverage beyond government contracts, housing, municipal employment, transgender, sexual identity, etc. Those municipalities providing protection beyond housing are: 1) Cities of Adrian, Albion, Ann Arbor, Battle Creek, Chelsea, Dearborn Heights, Detroit, East Grand Rapids, East Lansing, Farmington Hills, Fenton, Ferndale, Grand Ledge, Grand Rapids, Howell, Huntington Woods, Kalamazoo, Lansing, Linden, Marquette, Mt. Pleasant, Muskegon, Pleasant Ridge, Portage, Royal Oak, Saugatuck, Southfield, Traverse City, Trenton, Wayland, Ypsilanti; 2) Townships of Canton, Delhi, Delta, Kalamazoo, Meridian, Oshtemo, Saugatuck, Union; 3) Villages: Lathrup Village; Village of Douglas.    

For more information please contact David Masud at dmasud@masudlaborlaw.com

*Disclaimer: All answers to the Question of the Month are current the day on which they are posted. After this date, the information may subsequently change as a result of laws or rulings. For the most current information, please contact the responding lawyer for each state in which you are interested.

Answer from Minnesota

The Minnesota Human Rights Act protects individuals on the basis of their sexual orientation. Minn. Stat. 363.08, Subdiv. 1. Additionally, many municipalities have also adopted ordinances prohibiting discrimination on the basis of an individual’s sexual orientation.

For more information please contact Tom Revnew at trevnew@seatonlaw.com

*Disclaimer: All answers to the Question of the Month are current the day on which they are posted. After this date, the information may subsequently change as a result of laws or rulings. For the most current information, please contact the responding lawyer for each state in which you are interested.

Answer from Missouri

None in Missouri.

For more information please contact Stephen Maule at maule@mcmahonberger.com

*Disclaimer: All answers to the Question of the Month are current the day on which they are posted. After this date, the information may subsequently change as a result of laws or rulings. For the most current information, please contact the responding lawyer for each state in which you are interested.

Answer from Nevada

Nevada Revised Statutes 613.330 makes it an unlawful employment practice for an employer to fail or refuse to hire or to discharge or otherwise discriminate against any person because of his or her sexual orientation, gender identity or expression.

For more information please contact Scott Abbott at sabbott@kzalaw.com

*Disclaimer: All answers to the Question of the Month are current the day on which they are posted. After this date, the information may subsequently change as a result of laws or rulings. For the most current information, please contact the responding lawyer for each state in which you are interested.

Answer from New York

The New York State Human Rights Law, New York City Human Rights Law, and Westchester County Human Rights Law each prohibit discrimination in employment on the basis of sexual orientation.

For more information please contact Amanda Baker at abaker@cfk-law.com

*Disclaimer: All answers to the Question of the Month are current the day on which they are posted. After this date, the information may subsequently change as a result of laws or rulings. For the most current information, please contact the responding lawyer for each state in which you are interested.

Answer from North Carolina

There are no such statewide laws, however there are certain municipalities that have included sexual orientation as a protected classification in local non-discrimination ordinances. The current status of those local ordinances are unclear at the time of this writing given the passage of the HB2 statute.

NC Bill HB2 was introduced to overturn a local Charlotte ordinance that permitted transgender individuals the right to use the public bathroom corresponding to their identity.  In addition, HB2 eliminated the right of employees to bring suit under the state Equal Employment Practices Act (EEPA) statute in state court.  That provision does not identify sexual orientation, sexual identity or other similar categories as protected classifications, but it added “biological sex” as a protected classification.   HB2 was later amended to restore the right of employees to bring wrongful discharge claims in state court for violation of EEPA, but reduced the statute of limitations from 3 years to 1 year.

For more information please contact Bryan Adams at bryan.adams@vradlaw.com

*Disclaimer: All answers to the Question of the Month are current the day on which they are posted. After this date, the information may subsequently change as a result of laws or rulings. For the most current information, please contact the responding lawyer for each state in which you are interested.

Answer from Oregon

The Oregon Equality Act prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation in employment, housing, public accommodations, financial transactions, jury service, state institutions such as prisons, foster parenting, and public education.  Sexual orientation is defined to include actual or perceived heterosexuality, homosexuality, bisexuality or gender identity, regardless of whether the individual’s gender identity, appearance, expression or behavior differs from that traditionally associated with the individual’s sex at birth.  The Act contains an exception permitting religious institutions to take employment actions based on a bona fide religious belief concerning sexual orientation under certain circumscribed situations.

For more information please contact Randi Ensley at rensley@bullardlaw.com

*Disclaimer: All answers to the Question of the Month are current the day on which they are posted. After this date, the information may subsequently change as a result of laws or rulings. For the most current information, please contact the responding lawyer for each state in which you are interested.

Answer from Pennsylvania

The Pennsylvania Human Relations Act does not protect individuals from discrimination based on their sexual orientation.  However, many municipalities have enacted municipal ordinances prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, including but not limited to Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Scranton, Wilkes-Barre, Erie and Lancaster.

For more information please contact John Ellis at jellis@ufberglaw.com

*Disclaimer: All answers to the Question of the Month are current the day on which they are posted. After this date, the information may subsequently change as a result of laws or rulings. For the most current information, please contact the responding lawyer for each state in which you are interested.

Answer from Texas

None state-wide in Texas, although some municipalities have prohibitions.

For more information please contact John Freeman at jfreeman@keyharrington.com

*Disclaimer: All answers to the Question of the Month are current the day on which they are posted. After this date, the information may subsequently change as a result of laws or rulings. For the most current information, please contact the responding lawyer for each state in which you are interested.

Answer from Virginia

There is no state-wide protection in Virginia against discrimination in employment on the basis of sexual orientation.  The Virginia Human Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination by small employers not covered by the federal anti-discrimination laws, does not extend its coverage to sexual orientation.  However, a few localities in Virginia – Arlington County, the city of Alexandria, and the city of Charlottesville – prohibit sexual orientation discrimination in employment.

In March 2016, the Virginia Attorney General issued an advisory opinion suggesting that the Virginia Human Rights Act’s prohibition of discrimination based on “sex” might, under certain circumstances, be interpreted to cover sexual orientation discrimination.  But as of this date, no courts have held that the VHRA prohibits sexual orientation discrimination.

State employees in Virginia are protected against sexual orientation discrimination under Executive Order 1, signed by Governor McAuliffe on January 11, 2014.  And in January 2017, the Governor signed Executive Order 61, prohibiting state contracts with employers who do not protect their employees against sexual orientation discrimination. 

For more information please contact Michael Lorenger at MLorenger@lorengercarnell.com

*Disclaimer: All answers to the Question of the Month are current the day on which they are posted. After this date, the information may subsequently change as a result of laws or rulings. For the most current information, please contact the responding lawyer for each state in which you are interested.

Answer from Washington

The Washington Law Against Discrimination prohibits discrimination against employees based on their sexual orientation. Seattle and other local municipalities have ordinances to this effect as well. 

For more information please contact Ken Diamond at ken@winterbauerdiamond.com

*Disclaimer: All answers to the Question of the Month are current the day on which they are posted. After this date, the information may subsequently change as a result of laws or rulings. For the most current information, please contact the responding lawyer for each state in which you are interested.

Answer from Wisconsin

The Wisconsin Fair Employment Act specifically protects individuals from being discriminated against on the basis of their sexual orientation. Wis. Stat. § 1113.321. The City of Madison also has a non-discrimination ordinance (Sec. 39.03) that prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity applicable to employees in the City of Madison.

For more information please contact Laurie Petersen at LPetersen@lindner-marsack.com

*Disclaimer: All answers to the Question of the Month are current the day on which they are posted. After this date, the information may subsequently change as a result of laws or rulings. For the most current information, please contact the responding lawyer for each state in which you are interested.

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