What Does Arkansas’ Barring of Homosexual Protections Mean Nationally?

February 25, 2015 Discrimination

Legislation recently passed in Arkansas that bans all localities in the state from passing any anti-discrimination measure protecting gay and lesbian employees in the state.  This is becoming popular in many southern states – Texas is considering a similar ban and Tennessee already approved one in 2011.  Challenges are certainly on their way, but for now, these laws are on the books.

Employers need to be very careful about reading headlines and not articles in this area, however.  While gay and lesbian rights under state law may be limited by these bills, federal protection of gays and lesbians from discrimination are strengthening.  Recent case law indicates a push to protect gays and lesbians under the umbrella of gender discrimination, essentially affording these groups the same rights already given to those discriminated against due to race, national origin, religion, and the like.

Certainly, I doubt that virtually any employer will actively discriminate against someone based on sexual preference these days.  However, employers need to remain vigilant when receiving these types of complaints.  They need to be investigated properly and in the same way as any other Title VII claim would be.

More via U.S. News and World Report.