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Workplaces have made progress towards GLBT equality yet GLBT workers still go to work every day with fear that they might lose their jobs because of who they love and who they are. There is no federal law protecting the GLB community from workplace discrimination and harassment. There is confusion among organizations as to whether the federal civil rights law Title VII protects gay, lesbian, and bisexual (GLB) employees.The EEOC and several courts clearly have stated that GLB employees are protected by Title VII however other courts have disagreed. Recently, the EEOC has filed its first two sexual orientation lawsuits. These two cases demonstrate the EEOC’s commitment to moving forward to protect GLB employees from discrimination under Title VII. Transgender employees are protected under the Civil Rights Act Title VII because their discrimination is “because of sex” yet discrimination lawsuits continue to arise as to what bathroom and locker room transgender employees can use while at work. Roughly 90% of transgender and 40% of GLB employees experience workplace discrimination according to some surveys. Heterosexism – the cultural expectation that everyone is, should be, or would prefer to be heterosexual – is the established norm of the workplace; a commonplace bias in American institutions. This bias gets played out in both overt and covert behaviors which in turn negatively impact the organizational culture. However, there have been organizational successes in diminishing the biases. There is an opportunity for your organization to create strategies to ensure GLBT inclusion in your workforce
All organizations strive to meet their mission and goals. Most organizations employee GLBT workers. When GLBT workers are welcomed and included, without fear as to their sexual orientation and gender identity, the organization is more productive, has better morale, is healthier, and GLBT employees are not discriminated against. When the welcome and inclusive environment is not a reality, productivity drops, morale decreases, and the organization is at risk for liability. The organization’s climate and culture are compromised leading to increased turnover and difficulty hiring GLBT employees.
Dr. Susan Strauss is a national and international speaker, trainer and consultant. Her specialty areas include management/leadership development, organization development, communication, and harassment and bullying. She is an expert witness for discrimination and harassment lawsuits. She trains and consults with business, education, healthcare, law, and government organizations from both the public and private sector. Dr. Strauss has authored over 30 book chapters, books, and articles in professional journals. She has been featured on 20/20, CBS Evening News, and other television and radio programs as well as interviewed for newspaper and journal articles. She has her doctorate in organizational leadership, is a registered nurse with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and human services, a master’s degree in community health, and professional certificate in training and development.