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Will Congress approve federal protections for LGBT employees?

According to California state law, it is illegal for employers to discriminate against employees or refuse to hire applicants on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Because of these employment protections, individuals have legal recourse against employers if they are subject to unfair treatment.

Although California residents can count on these specific safeguards against workplace discrimination, some states do not afford the same protection to employees and applicants who identify as LGBTQ. However, some federal lawmakers are looking to change this by passing the federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act. Already, the United States Senate approved the measure with bipartisan support. The next stop for the bill is the House of Representatives.

President Obama has signaled support for the bill, so if it moves through both chambers of the legislature it is likely to become law. At this point, the bill is not scheduled for a vote in the House. Some observers, however, have suggested that an executive order could be solid move until the House votes. By issuing this order, the president could require businesses that have federal contracts to comply with the bill's provisions.

Moving forward, readers might be interested in following the progress of the bill and its potential to reshape the landscape of federal employment law.

Of course, this serves as a reminder to employers and employees alike where workplace discrimination laws stand in California. No one deserves to feel like they're being unfairly judged in the workplace. Decisions regarding pay, promotions and hiring should be done based on qualifications and performance, rather than factors that have no effect on a person's ability to do a job.

Source: The Washington Times, "Senate passes gay-rights bill to prevent workplace discrimination," Jacqueling Klimas, Nov. 7, 2013

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