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116th Congress bans LGBTQ job discrimination in the House

The legislative gains advanced by the LGBTQ community in California have spread all the way to the nation's capital. With the Democrats taking control of the 116th Congress on Jan. 3, they voted to update the rules for employment at the House of Representatives by banning job discrimination against LGBTQ people. A representative who is an open member of the LGBTQ demographic pushed for the change.

Federal employment law oversees the rules for congressional staff, and it does not currently spell out protection from discrimination for people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. Federal courts across the country have taken a mixed view on employment rights for these individuals. Some courts have extended federal civil rights law to include LGBTQ people on the basis of sex discrimination. Other courts have taken a different view and left people exposed to discrimination on the job in places where state or local laws do not offer protection.

A government affairs director for Human Rights Campaign said that the House of Representatives took historic action to address potential job discrimination in its chambers. He attributed the bill's passage to the millions of voters who elected new representatives who more accurately reflected the nation's diverse population.

Although many laws direct employers to treat employees fairly without regard to their gender, age, disability, religion or ethnicity, an individual might still encounter workplace discrimination. An attorney could help a worker understand options for challenging an employer about illegal conduct. Legal counsel may organize evidence and prepare a formal complaint. During negotiations, arbitration or litigation, an attorney might seek a settlement for lost pay and benefits.

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