Vox writes on how the work of the federal Equal Opportunity Employment Commission has been establishing in court — no matter resistance in states like Arkansas — that it is not OK to discriminate against LGBT people in the workplace.
It’s interesting particularly in light of Attorney General Leslie Rutledge’s pitched resistance to equal rights based on sexual orientation — most particularly in fighting equal treatment for transgender people. Rutledge apparently believes transgender people don’t exist except as some sort of fiction. Born with something resembling a penis or vagina? Use the restroom Leslie Rutledge says you must use as dictated by those parts, forever — all the vagaries of gender and even drug and surgical interventions not withstanding.
Anyway, from Vox:
The EEOC wasn’t always involved in LGBTQ issues. But over the past few years, it came around to a different interpretation of what qualifies as sex discrimination. Originally, bans on sex discrimination were taken to by and large protect women. Nowadays, the EEOC argues that LGBTQ people are protected by bans on sex discrimination, because discrimination against LGBTQ people is, fundamentally, rooted in expectations of how people of certain sexes should act — whether it’s whom they should love or what their gender identity should be based on the sex assigned to them at birth.
With that interpretation, the EEOC has been involved in thousands of cases over the past several years regarding anti-LGBTQ discrimination, netting millions in settlement agreements and helping change employers’ policies.
With the release of a report on workplace harassment, EEOC is going further, calling on employers and employees to take charge of stopping workplace harassment — against not just LGBTQ people but also women, racial and religious minorities, and people with disabilities.
State law in Arkansas allows discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. The legislature and Gov. Asa Hutchinson further demonstrated a belief in discrimination with 2015 legislation to give people who discriminate a religious pretext to do so and also banned local non-discrimination efforts. If this reminds you at all of the bad old 1960s when the states stood up to protect racial discrimination, it should.