The Equality Act refers to the bill that would amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and other civil rights laws to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in certain areas, including employment, housing, public accommodations, federal funding, education, and credit. The Equality Act also expressly clarifies that states can’t pass laws that take away rights under the bill, such as those regarding marriage. Understanding what the Equality Act does is vital to understanding how it will help protect citizens and promote equality in the United States.
What is the Equality Act?
The Equality Act is legislation that would expand protections for individuals against discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. The bill was first introduced in Congress on July 23, 2015. Currently, a few federal laws prohibit employment and housing discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin but do not specifically include protection from employment or housing discrimination because of sexual orientation or gender identity. While there are more than 20 states that have adopted their laws protecting LGBT employees, many other states do not have these types of protections. Without explicit federal protections in place at all times, many Americans can be subjected to unfair treatment from employers as well as harassment from landlords simply due to their sexual orientation or gender identity.
Why is it Needed?
The act addresses several areas of law that previously did not explicitly include protections for LGBT people, including housing, employment, public accommodations, jury service, education, credit, and more. Many of these areas were already protected based on race or national origin under existing civil rights laws. The bill makes explicit that sexual orientation and gender identity are also included in those laws. In many states across the country, certain activities — such as getting a mortgage or being able to get a good job — are made difficult for people because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. For too long in our country’s history…LGBT Americans have been forced to live with basic dignities—like living with a roof over their heads or having access to employment opportunities—taken away simply because of who they are.
What Does It Propose
The bill would prohibit consideration of gender identity in public spaces. It seeks to define sex as a person’s immutable biological condition of being male or female, as objectively determined by anatomy and genetics at the time of birth. Its application would be broad: The act would bar schools from respecting transgender students’ gender identities, effectively allowing them to make bathrooms and locker rooms off-limits to certain students if they wish. It would also bar employers from considering a job applicant’s gender identity when making hiring decisions.
What are some protections under the Equality Act?
The Equality Act offers protections in many areas of life including public accommodations, employment, housing, access to credit, federally funded programs, and education. Public accommodations: The law protects against unlawful discrimination in any place that provides goods or services to members of the public. This includes parks, stores, restaurants, or anywhere else someone could go while they’re out in their community. Employment: The EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) enforces this according to act. Housing: Individuals seeking housing are protected under fair housing laws that prevent landlords from discriminating based on race, color national origin, and gender identity. Below are some aspects that this Equality Act protects.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) created laws that prevent prejudice based on age, gender, race, religion, disability, and so forth. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) protects workers who are 40 years of age or older from employment discrimination. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act also prohibits companies with 15 or more employees from discriminating against individuals based on their religion, race, sex, and national origin.
The ADA protects individuals with disabilities in three ways: prohibiting discrimination, requiring reasonable accommodations, and mandating accessibility. The ADA Amendments Act of 2008 broadened the definition of disability to include those with serious mental impairments as well as temporary disabilities such as broken limbs.
Belief and Religion
First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution addresses religious freedom, which guarantees the free exercise of religion for everyone in America. The law makes no distinction between different types of religions; therefore, you are allowed to practice your beliefs freely. However, there are limitations to how much you can express those beliefs through practices that involve coercion or force upon another person or group.
The Equality Act prohibits employers with 15 or more employees from discriminating against their workers. All workplaces in Washington State must comply with federal law, but employers can have policies that are even more inclusive to their employees. For example, a local partnership in Seattle offers benefits for a domestic partner as well as an employee’s immediate family members. This ensures all employees have access to health insurance and other benefits regardless of marital status.
The bill will make it illegal to discriminate against anyone in employment, housing, public accommodations (such as hotels, restaurants, retail stores), or schools based on their gender identity or sexual orientation. The bill will also add these protections for veterans and individuals with disabilities. Under existing civil rights laws, people are already protected from discrimination on race, color, religion, sex, and national origin.
Pregnancy and Motherhood
The Pregnancy Discrimination Act requires that pregnant women are treated in all aspects of employment as any other employee. The Americans with Disabilities Act requires that employers make reasonable accommodations for pregnant employees. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act also prohibits an employer from firing or refusing to hire a woman who becomes pregnant, so long as she can perform her job. The Family and Medical Leave Act also protects a woman’s right to 12 weeks of unpaid leave while she is pregnant or recovering from childbirth.
Is there anything I can do if I feel I have been discriminated against
If you have been a victim of unlawful discrimination, there are steps you can take to ensure your legal rights are protected. As soon as possible after an incident, document what happened in writing. In addition to filing a charge with your local EEOC office, you may also be able to file a complaint with your state’s civil rights agency or fair employment practices agency, or other relevant government body. Some states offer mediation services that attempt to resolve complaints out of court and/or administrative hearings that hear evidence from both sides before issuing a decision. You may also be able to file suit in court under your state’s laws if you do not receive satisfaction through these alternative dispute resolution procedures. You may choose to consult an attorney about all of these options before taking action.