Thursday, June 01, 2017

LGBT nondiscrimination laws in U.S. states

Updated June 2017
These 18 states prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in employment, housing and public accommodations: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington. So does the federal district, Washington, D.C.

These three states prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation but not gender identity in employment, housing and public accommodations: New Hampshire, New York, Wisconsin.

(The New York State Division of Human Rights promulgated regulations that took effect Jan. 20, 2016, prohibiting discrimination based on gender identity, transgender status or gender dysphoria in employment, housing and public accommodations. Courts have not yet ruled on whether the department was correct in determining that existing protections based on sex automatically prohibit discrimination based on gender identity.)

Utah prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in employment and housing but not in public accommodations.

Guam and Puerto Rico (U.S. territories) prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in employment.

On April 4, 2017, the United States Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit in Chicago ruled 8-3 that the 1964 Civil Rights Act's ban on employment discrimination based on sex is also a ban on employment discrimination based on sexual orientation. The 7th Circuit covers Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin, so employment discrimination based on sexual orientation now is banned in Indiana also. The ruling had immediate effect and the defendant, a college in Indiana, opted not to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

In two other circuits, the 2nd and the 11th, three-judge panels recently ruled the opposite way on this concept. In both cases, plaintiffs are seeking a rehearing before the full court ("en banc"), which the circuit can agree to or decline. If a circuit declines, then there will be a circuit "split" on this concept, which increases the likelihood the Supreme Court would take a case to resolve the conflict, if the plaintiffs were to appeal. Ditto if a circuit agrees to a rehearing and arrives at the same result as the original panel.

Twenty-seven states and three territories have no statewide/territorywide LGBT protections. But in many of those 27 states, there are protections in large cities and university towns. Local nondiscrimination ordinances, however, sometimes do not have the teeth of state or federal laws.
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