Safeguarding Your Rights In The Workplace

Lawmakers push anti-discrimination protection for LGBTQ Texans

A small but bipartisan group of Texas legislators is sponsoring a bill that would expand the state’s anti-discrimination laws to include members of the LGBTQ community. The lawmakers are pushing the bill as an economic boost for Texas.

Though Texas law prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of things like race, gender, age and country of origin, discrimination based on sexual orientation is allowed. For example, an employer can refuse to hire an otherwise qualified job applicant because they are gay. That same company’s management could consistently give an employee the worst client lists because they are trans.

A moral issue — and an economic one

Rather than focusing on the discrimination LGBTQ people deal with in the workplace, housing, and public accommodations, the lawmakers behind the bill are pitching it as an economic drain on Texas. State Rep. Jessica González, the bill’s sponsor, is pointing to a new study that suggests the lack of discrimination protection hurts the state’s tourism industry and business investments. The study suggests that banning discrimination against LGBTQ individuals would add $19.8 billion to state gross domestic product by 2025, and add more than 180,000 jobs.

The state of the law

Rep. González has five co-sponsors joining her in the House. But despite this early show of support, the bill could have a tough time becoming law. Currently, 21 states and the District of Columbia have laws protecting government and private sector workers based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Federal law has no such protection.

Several Texas cities, including Dallas, San Antonio and Austin, have local ordinances protecting LGBTQ workers. But Houston does not.

You do not have to take illegal workplace discrimination without a fight. But standing up for your rights can require a legal fight. To learn more, bring your questions to an employment law attorney.