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What You Should Know About LGBTQ, Aside From What the Letters Stand For

Since the 2015 U.S. Supreme Court Decision legalizing gay marriage, the focus for LGBTQ activists has shifted to combating discrimination based on LGBTQ status. Like many other states, Ohio does not have a law prohibiting workplace discrimination based on LGBTQ status. However, Ohio House Bill 160 may change this. This bill was introduced in March 2017 and proposes to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity or expression. Lardiere McNair understands that many of our followers are employers and small business owners. We are here to keep you up-to-date on the changing landscape of LGBTQ rights and laws, so that you can protect your employees and business.

First and foremost, it is important to know what kind of protections are available for members of the LGBTQ community in Ohio. While there is no statewide law prohibiting discrimination yet, many cities have passed legislation protecting LGBTQ rights. Many Ohio cities and counties prohibit public employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and/or gender identity and offer full protections from discrimination in employment and housing. Some of the cities include: Columbus, Cleveland, Canton, Dayton, Newark, Bowling Green, Athens, and Cincinnati. In fact, Columbus scored a perfect 100 out of 100 on the Human Rights Campaign’s 2016 Municipal Equality Index.[1] However, other Ohio cities and counties only offer some protection for housing but not employment discrimination.

Even though there are no laws at the state or federal level conclusively prohibiting discrimination based on LGBTQ status, Ohio employers should be aware of potential liabilities under state and federal laws. As for federal law, employers with 15 or more employees are subject to Title VII, which the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alleges sexual orientation discrimination is a form of sex discrimination prohibited by Title VII. Moreover, an Ohio employer with four or more employees is subject to the Ohio Fair Employment Practices Act.

As a small business owner and employer in Ohio, the best thing to do is to know what laws apply to your business. For example, if your business has multiple locations in the state, you should know the local city laws regarding LGBTQ discrimination, because some city laws may encompass both sexual orientation and gender identity, while others city laws may only address one status. In addition, you should put yourself in the best position to defend against discrimination claims by basing employment decisions on documented and legitimate rationale. Lardiere McNair is here to help you, as a small business owner, understand which laws apply to your business and to help establish workplace policies and procedures that reduce the risk of discrimination occurring. LGBTQ rights and laws are an ever-changing landscape and Lardiere McNair is here to help keep you in the loop.

[1]http://assets.hrc.org//files/assets/resources/Columbus-Ohio-2016.pdf?_ga=2.63532207.1623430386.1499950626-756440093.1499950626

Alexandria Nagel is a Law Clerk at Lardiere McNair, LLC.  To read more about our firm, please visit www.lmcounsel.com.

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