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President Obama Signs Executive Order Protecting LGBT Employees in the Workplace

In late July 2014, President Obama signed an executive order that would protect lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender employees from being discriminated against or fired based on their gender identity or sexual orientation. The order only affects federal contractors, which includes 24,000 companies and 28 million workers.

Nationwide, 21 states have laws barring companies from discriminating against employees based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. This means that they can be fired, demoted, or passed up for raises and promotions based on an employer or supervisor's bias against gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered individuals. In West Virginia, LGBT workers have no state protections from workplace discrimination. There are an estimated 25,000 LGBT employees in the workforce in West Virginia.

The executive order builds on a 1965 order signed by Lyndon Johnson that prohibited discrimination in the workplace based on race, religion, gender or nationality. In 2002, President George W. Bush amended Johnson's order with a religious exemption given to religious groups.

In the wake of the Supreme Court decision regarding Hobby Lobby and religious exemption from the new healthcare laws, several conservative Christian leaders asked for a religious exemption to the new order. However, many other religious groups objected, saying such an exemption would open a "Pandora's box" inviting various other forms of discrimination.

If you have been the target of workplace harassment, discrimination or unfair termination, Bouchillon, Crossan & Colburn, L.C. represents clients in federal court and before the EEOC, MSPB and in state and union grievance hearings.

Our attorneys have more than 35 years dedicated to giving clients the attention, advice, support and empowerment they need to effectively meet their goals. We are committed to the principle that all persons shall have equal justice under the law. Call Bouchillon, Crossan & Colburn, L.C. at 304.523.8451 or contact us online to schedule an appointment.

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