Current Issue

PERSONNEL MATTERS: Employers urged to be proactive about LGBT workers’ rights

Comments Email

By Sheena Harrison, Crain News Service

ORLANDO, Fla. (June 27, 2014) — Firms should create equal employment and anti-discrimination policies that include protections for employees based on sexual orientation and gender identity to help prevent discrimination complaints against companies, said Michael Cohen, a partner with Duane Morris L.L.P. law firm in Philadelphia.

Additionally, employers should address inappropriate behavior by employees that can be perceived as discriminatory against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people—even if such behavior is considered legal under state and federal anti-discrimination laws, Mr. Cohen said. He gave a presentation on recent legal developments affecting LGBT employees in the workforce during the Society for Human Resource Management’s Annual Conference & Exposition in Orlando.

When employees or supervisors make comments that stereotype LGBT employees—such as by stating that a person doesn’t “sound gay”—it could allow LGBT workers to argue that such statements fit into a culture of sex discrimination violations under the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964, Mr. Cohen said.

While an isolated statement may not be enough to violate state and federal discrimination laws, and may not have been said with ill intent, Mr. Cohen said companies should address such behavior to create an inclusive corporate culture for LGBT workers.

“You take action when inappropriate conduct happens, irrespective of whether that inappropriate conduct is enough to create liability,” Mr. Cohen said. “You want your employees to understand this kind of intolerance, this type of inappropriate conduct simply won’t be tolerated in your organization.”

Companies also can show inclusivity by offering benefits to same-sex spouses, civil union partners and domestic partners of employees, but Mr. Cohen advised companies to make sure their insurance policies support such policies.

“Make sure that the insurance company that you’re working with actually provides domestic partner benefits because you don’t want to start self-insuring people,” he said. “It would be a beautiful gesture on your part, but I’m guessing it’s not something you want to do.”

This report appeared on the website of Crain’s Business Insurance magazine, a Chicago-based sister publication of Tire Business.

More Polls>

TB Reader Poll

Previous | Published January 16, 2018

What is the top story from tire and automotive service industry in 2017?

Icahn Automotive buys more than 225 retail and two other franchise groups with nearly 1,000 locations.
36% (44 votes)
Nokian and Triangle announce plans to build tire plants in North America, while Hankook and Giti officially open their N.A. plants.
22% (27 votes)
Love’s Travel Stops open 36 travel stops, acquire Speedco and the establish a retread business unit.
11% (13 votes)
Tire manufacturers hike prices as raw material prices fluctuate.
17% (20 votes)
K&M expands into New England by acquiring MotoStar.
4% (5 votes)
eBay Motors launches tire installation service for U.S, as well as automotive technician search service.
10% (12 votes)
Total votes: 121
More Polls »