LGBTQ - INCLUSIVE CONTRACTS AND POLICIES
The strongest protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender workers is a union contract. Work with your Local Union leadership to ensure your contract fully includes LGBTQ workers and our families in every aspect, from general workplace non-discrimination to family benefits.
In 29 states, it is legal to fire a worker for being gay, lesbian, or bisexual and the same is true for transgender and gender non-conforming workers all of those states plus four others.* Every American deserves access to a good-paying job regardless of race, religion, gender, national origin, sexual orientation, or gender identity or expression.
Pride at Work supports a federal ban on discrimination in the workplace based on sexual orientation and gender identity and expression. We oppose any religion exemption that expands upon existing narrow religious exemptions, such as those that exist in Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. In late 2014, Pride at Work joined the National LGBTQ Task Force and other LGBTQ and civil rights organizations in withdrawing our support of the existing Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) bill in Congress. After the Supreme Court ruled to give corporations special religious rights in the Hobby Lobby case, we could not see how such logic couldn’t be applied to the broad religious exemptions added to ENDA.
UPDATE On July 23, Sen. Jeff Merkley (OR), along with 40 other senators, introduced the Equality Act of 2015, effectively replacing ENDA, which would make employment and other forms of discrimination against LGBTQ individuals unlawful. The legislation was filed concurrently in the U.S. House of Representatives by Rep. David Cicilline (RI) and 158 other representatives.
Notable provisions included in the bill are as follows:
-Amends Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to protect against employment discrimination.
-Amends Titles II, III, IV and VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to make unlawful discrimination in public accommodations, public facilities, public education and by entities receiving federal funds for use in a range of programs, including financial assistance for higher education.
-Amends Title IX of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by allowing the attorney general to adjudicate in equal protection cases under the Fourteenth Amendment.
-Clarification that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) cannot be used to justify any anti-discriminatory practices by any individuals or entities that are made illegal by the Act.
TRANSGENDER - INCLUSIVE HEALTHCARE
The first step to ensuring transgender union members have access to appropriate medical care through their contract is to remove exclusionary language from insurance policies. There is no reason other than discrimination and lack of understanding of transgender workers for these exclusions to exist. Transgender and transition-related health needs refer to medically recommended care, not simply cosmetic or elective procedures.
Health care needs may include transition-related services, such as therapy, hormones, surgical procedures and electrolysis. These types of procedures are normally covered for other diagnosed, medically necessary conditions. Transgender workers may have unique health care needs after transition that insurers are not used to covering, but are part of their appropriate and recommended health care. (For example, cross-gender identified procedures, such as cancer screenings associated with their former biological gender.) An affirmative statement within the policy that transgender health coverage is included supports transgender members in ensuring they don’t face inappropriate denials for medically necessary care.
Employers and insurers may talk about the significant expense of these procedures. It is important to ground them in the facts, not their assumptions.
A study of transgender-inclusive health coverage in San Francisco proved cost estimates to be greatly overrated. While transition costs may be expensive to an individual, they pale in cost comparison to more common procedures such as heart surgeries or the cost of less expensive benefits used by most members. It is important to remember that unlike a benefit such as vision or dental, this is a health benefit that a finite number of members will ever use. At the same time, it has an extraordinary impact on the life of the member needing this coverage.