Monday, April 01, 2019

LGBT Antidiscrimination Laws in U.S. States and Territories

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Last update: April 1, 2019

These 20 states prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in employment, housing and public accommodations: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington. So does the federal district, Washington, D.C.

Wisconsin prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation but not gender identity in employment, housing and public accommodations. Utah prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in employment and housing but not in public accommodations. Guam and Puerto Rico (U.S. territories) prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in employment.

On April 4, 2017, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit ruled 8-3 that the 1964 Civil Rights Act's ban on employment discrimination based on sex is also a ban on employment discrimination based on sexual orientation. The 7th Circuit covers Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin, so employment discrimination based on sexual orientation is now banned in Indiana.

On Feb. 26, 2018, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit ruled 10-3 that the 1964 Civil Rights Act's ban on employment discrimination based on sex is also a ban on employment discrimination based on sexual orientation. The 2nd Circuit covers Connecticut, New York and Vermont, states that themselves already ban job discrimination based on sexual orientation, so the ruling did not add any states to this list, but it did add to the jurisprudence that is likely to see review by the U.S. Supreme Court.

On March 17, 2018, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit ruled unanimously that the 1964 Civil Rights Act's ban on employment discrimination based on sex is also a ban on employment discrimination based on gender identity. The 6th Circuit covers Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee. Employment discrimination based on gender identity is now banned in those states.

Several other circuit appeals courts have ruled that gender-identity discrimination is a form of sex discrimination in cases that were not about the Civil Rights Act's ban on employment discrimination based on sex. Due to those precedents, any Civil Rights Act-based gender-identity employment-discrimination cases that occur in those circuits would almost certainly result in victory for a transgender plaintiff with a legitimate case.

In states with no sexual-orientation or gender-identity protections in employment, housing or public accommodations, it is common to find protections at the municipal level in large cities and university towns. Local nondiscrimination ordinances, however, sometimes do not have the teeth of state or federal laws.
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