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Federal bill would widen classes protected against discrimination

Q&A with Charlie Plumb

published in The Oklahoman | November 8, 2013

While Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employment discrimination based upon a number of factors, including a person’s gender, it does not prohibit discrimination based on one’s sexual orientation or gender identity. A federal bill making its way through Congress, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, proposes to change that.

Labor and employment attorney Charlie Plumb was interviewed by The Oklahoman about the protections provided under the proposed Act.

“ENDA is proposed federal legislation that would prohibit employers with at least 15 employees from discriminating against individuals on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity,” he said. “As proposed, the discrimination prohibition would apply to all aspects of the employment relationship, including hiring, firing and harassment.”

To date, 21 states and the District of Columbia prohibit discrimination in the workplace based upon sexual orientation. While Oklahoma is not one of those states, Plumb explained that individual employers may establish their own nondiscrimination policies. He noted that two of Oklahoma’s largest employers — the cities of Oklahoma City and Tulsa — have already amended their employment policies to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation.