The U.S. Supreme Court entered a ruling on June 15, acknowledging how federal employee protections now prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in the workplace. While many members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) community saw this as a step in the right direction, others argue that they have a long way to secure the full breadth of rights that they deserve in different sectors of society, including in the workplace.
Kentucky’s treatment of its LGBTQ residents
The stories that Kentucky LGBTQ workers tell are all too familiar. One woman describes how she worked as a social worker until she shared that she identifies as a lesbian in her 20s. She was the sole employee that her employers called in for drug testing after making such an admission. She lost her job soon after that.
Her inequitable treatment didn’t stop there. She went to set up a tattoo shop and found it hard to find a landlord willing to look past her sexual orientation and rent to her.
What the Supreme Court recent ruling means for Kentucky’s LGBTQ workers
The justices’ ruling this past summer now makes it illegal for an employer to not only discriminate against a worker based on their religion, race and sex and other long-protected classes but also now includes gender identity and sexual orientation. Even still, state lawmakers say that that’s not enough to protect the rights of the 117,625 LGBTQ Kentuckians and thus why some state legislators will be filing a Fairness Bill in early 2021.
Sexual orientation isn’t currently a protected status under the Kentucky Civil Rights Act, and there are loopholes in implementing the Supreme Court ruling. One exempts companies employing less than 15 workers from abiding by workplace discrimination laws.
What you can do if you face workplace discrimination
Most workers want to go to work, do their job and earn their paycheck. That’s not something many of Kentucky’s LGBTQ residents have the luxury of doing, though. These workers often have difficulty landing a job and face discrimination from their colleagues and supervisors for merely being themselves. Inequitable treatment on the job creates a hostile work environment. A sexual orientation/transgender rights attorney can advise you of any legal avenues Kentucky or federal law may allow you to pursue if your Louisville employer treated you inappropriately on the job.