SOJ Community Event – Part 3, Federal Employment protections

SOJ Community Event – Part 3, Federal Employment protections


The Supreme Court is currently
considering a case about federal employment protections and the LGBT
community and LGBTQ workers. Jansen, could you talk about what impact this
case could have on protections for LGBTQ employees? Sure. First of all, welcome. It’s so
wonderful to see so many of you coming out on this Saturday morning to
hear from our internal speakers and thank you to Connie and thank you to Chai
and I just want to say that the developments you’ve heard at the EEOC
and 2011 and 2012 have been clear that LGBT people should be able to file their
complaints of discrimination would not have happened without Chai’s leadership
and so just really just phenomenal And all those advances are at risk today because
everything that you’ve heard hi in terms of these in terms of these protections
that LGBTQ people now enjoy at the EEOC from job discrimination is being
considered by the US Supreme Court which heard three cases in the last month just
job discrimination against gay workers as well as transgender workers and so
what’s remarkable is that you know the Supreme Court has taken these cases and
it’s going to answer whether or not they agree with the EEOC’s position with
GLAD’s positions with positions of you know civil rights organization across
the countries and businesses and corporations there is a huge amount
support for protecting LGBTQ people from job discrimination or well the US Supreme
Court take away those rights that so many people have relied on for so many
years so it is quite remarkable that this is now in the US Supreme Court but what’s not
remarkable is the stories themselves that made it from the court you’ve heard
the numbers and statistics underlying all those
numbers are people’s lives and so in these three cases
and you have three individuals who have been fired for who they are
Amy Stevens is a transgender woman who was the funeral director at a funeral
home in Illinois and she was fired by her boss when she told her boss that she
would be transitioning and living as the woman she always knew that she was.
Donald Zarda was a gay, what are they called again? Skydiving instructor who came out to one of one of the customers that he was
skydiving with who then told his employer that was fired for being gay
and then finally Joe Bostick was working for the state in the child welfare system
helping some of the most vulnerable youth in that system and he was fired
when his employer found out that he had joined a gay softball league and that
fired him for being gay so these stories are unfortunately not remarkable because
we know they happen every single day but they were able to file with their state
Commission’s or with the EEOC under these protections under sex
discrimination that we talked about and those cases are now at the US Supreme
Court which you know will decide sometime before June 2020 whether or not
they will continue those protections or take them away and this is hugely
consequential for our community and also something that not enough people in our
community know about right so one of the things that I would ask all of you today
there will be many action items to take away from today’s event but one of the
things I think it is so important is just have three conversations with folks
in your lives about these cases because win or lose, it’s going to be so
important for us to still pass federal laws that make
clear that LGBTQ people are protected from discrimination and not just in jobs
but also in housing and in public accommodations like restaurants and
businesses in this piece right here on an in credit an in jury service in every
area of life that LGBTQ people exist in there must be discrimination protections
for them and so the best way to answer this question once and for all is to
pass the Equality Act which is legislation that’s now pending in the US
Congress it is passed the house but it still hasn’t even gotten a hearing in
the Senate despite the fact that the vast majority of Americans support
passing the Equality Act so even if we win the case is the US Supreme Court
that doesn’t cover housing discrimination or and public
accommodations discrimination we still have to pass a quality act especially if we
lose at the US Supreme Court that is even more reason to pass the Equality
Act and so that’s the second thing I would ask you to do is to talk to those
same three people and talk to them about the importance of plots in equality act So just a reminder if you have a
question feel free to put it on the card and pass on it to Amanda or Caitlin in the back and
they’ll make sure that it gets up to the front. So one of the things about, and
you’re absolutely right that is what is happening to Supreme Court is really
a problem for a lot of reasons so my ask because I’m trained to think as a
pessimist with respect to the law but an optimist relative to civil rights right
so my ask is that if these cases go south in Massachusetts we were so you
know the MCAD ad is funded largely by the Federal Government now we have been able
to get some from the state but make no bones about if
we continue to see an erosion and I’m seeing in the housing as well of rights
and civil rights we Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination will
have more work it is really important to be able to enforce the law in
Massachusetts if the feds are not going to take up the mantle so my ask is you
know we get four million dollars from the state that’s all. We are to covering
the entire state of Massachusetts and eradicate discrimination if we lose our
federal funding we will need a significant increase in our state
funding and recognize that we will need to enforce laws for more people where
our federal partners will not have that same ability. Thank you! And just to
explain a bit about how that works so what happens is like I said EEOC gets
back 95,000 charges a year when you add up all the charges that come into the
state and sometimes city commissions if there’s city laws
that’s abate another 90 thousand, okay and what happens is the EEOC pays the
state and city commissions there’s a certain amount of money for each charge
that they process and then they deal with you know dual filed with the EEOC
but they’re doing this staff work and and there are these work share
agreements between the EEOC and the Commission’s one way in which this
operated for the sex discrimination charges was it used to be you know MCAD
could investigate you know 200 sexual orientation, gender identity charges they
could get money from the EEOC because you can only get money if the EEOC would
otherwise have been spending staff time to investigate and when it wasn’t
covered from the EEOC’s perspective under federal law they wouldn’t pay so again
there was a real effort to say to all of those state Commission’s if you are
investigating a sexual orientation or gender identity claim,
make sure to count that among the charges that you get payment for. Thank
you!

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