In 2019, the House of Representatives made history when it passed the Equality Act, a comprehensive LGBT rights bill.
More than just workplace rights.
The Equality Act would amend Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the federal anti-discrimination law for the workplace, to clarify that discrimination based on sex (currently unlawful) would also include discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The legislation would also ban discrimination based on these protected classes in public accommodations and facilities, education, federal funding, housing, credit, and the jury system.
However, while the Equality Act passed the House by a vote of 236-173 two years ago, it never got out of the Senate.
Why do we need the Equality Act in 2021?
For one thing, as President Biden noted, the Equality Act transcends the workplace, “locking in critical safeguards in our housing, education, public services, and lending systems.”
So, will the Equality Act make it across the finish line this time? That’s unclear. It should pass the House again. And, surely, President Biden will sign it.
What’s the hold-up?
In the Senate, some questions need answers, namely, will the GOP filibuster? And will the Equality Act require some religious freedom protections to get enough votes? (As drafted now, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act would not excuse compliance with the Equality Act).
Even without a federal statute governing LGBT workplace rights, most businesses have employee handbooks and policies that protect LGBT workers. But, I’ll keep you updated on the status of the Equality Act.
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Don’t forget to sign up here for The Employer Handbook Zoom Office Hour, which will be this Friday at Noon ET with me andy my FisherBroyles employment law partner, Gordon Berger. Gordon is one of the leading attorneys in the country on HR outsourcing, PEOs, ASO’s and the like.
We’ll get you caught up on all the big pending employment law legislation, including what you need to know about President Biden’s massive COVID relief bill. Plus, we’ll talk about independent contractors vs. employees and take your Q&A.