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Protections for LGBT workers are evolving inconsistently

Numerous studies and surveys confirm that the majority of Americans support the idea that individuals should not be discriminated against based on their sexual orientation or their sexual identity. However, the law does not protect against discrimination based on these two characteristics in the same ways that it does for others.

Certain characteristics like race, religion, gender and national origin are protected from discrimination in a host of scenarios. They are protected at the federal level and neither states nor local jurisdictions may strip individuals of these protections. However, the state of LGBT discrimination protections is still evolving. Some protections are extended at the federal level, some states have enacted various protections and some local jurisdictions recognize additional protections as well. This inconsistent evolution has led to some challenging consequences.

For example, The Atlantic recently published a piece regarding the fact that many workers are struggling to obtain health insurance coverage through their employers for their married spouses. This hurdle is occurring even in states where same-sex marriage is legal. And because the courts are still grappling with the inconsistent evolution of LGBT protections, it is unclear whether these cases will all be resolved in the same ways. Certain workers may continue to be denied coverage while others may obtain coverage via lawsuits, public pressure or changes in company policy.

If you have questions about LGBT protections in the workplace and beyond, please do not hesitate to consult an experienced attorney in your state. As these protections continue to evolve, an attorney’s guidance is certain to evolve accordingly.

Source: The Atlantic, “Legally Married, but Their Boss Disagrees,” Olga Khazan, Feb. 20, 2015

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