Hawaii Among 18 States on Brief to Protect LGBTQ Workers From Employment Discrimination

Hawaii Attorney General Doug Chin joined an amicus brief filed with the U.S. Supreme Court by 18 attorneys general, arguing that employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.

Click to read brief

The attorneys general argue that their states have strong interests in protecting their citizens against employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. The lack of nationwide recognition that Title VII bars such discrimination blocks the full protection of LGBTQ workers – particularly given divisions between the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (which takes the position that Title VII protects workers from sexual orientation) and the federal Department of Justice (which has taken the opposite position).

“Discrimination of any kind is unacceptable. This is why the State of Hawaii is one of 18 states standing up for the civil rights of workers in Hawaii and across America,” said Governor David Ige.

Attorney General Chin said, “It is unacceptable in the year 2017 that someone could face employment discrimination because of his or her sexual orientation. Period.”

The brief was filed earlier this week, on National Coming Out Day. In addition to Attorney General Chin, it was led by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and joined by the attorneys general of California, Connecticut, Delaware, Iowa, Illinois, Massachusetts, Maryland, Minnesota, New Mexico, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia, Vermont, Washington, and the District of Columbia.

“Employment discrimination against gay, lesbian, and bisexual workers not only deprives them of important economic opportunities—it also stigmatizes their most intimate relationships and thus ‘diminish[es] their person-hood,’” the attorneys general write. “Title VII plays a crucial complementary role by covering individuals not subject to the State’s laws—for instance, federal employees or residents who work in another State—and by making available both the federal courts and a federal enforcer, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), to police invidious discrimination based on sexual orientation.”

The case, Evans v. Georgia Regional Hospital, involves Jameka Evans, a security guard at a Savannah hospital who was harassed at work and forced out of her job because she is a lesbian. Evans’ petition seeks a nationwide ruling that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation violates Title VII.

A copy of the brief is attached.

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