Video: Supreme Court Ruling Leaves Gays Vulnerable in the Workplace

Workers Compensation

It's legal to fire someone for being gay in 28 states -- ACLU map

By Larry Bodine, Editor in Chief

The Supreme Court ruled on June 27 that same-sex couples have a fundamental right to marry, however gay people can still be discriminated against in employment.

Eugene Hollander, an employment and personal injury in Chicago said, "It was a great decision by the US Supreme Court, but we still have a long way to go. At this juncture gays and lesbians and have no federal rights to pursue if they are discriminated against in employment."

In most states a person can be turned down for a job because they are gay. Hollander said that if a person is fired from a job for being gay, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has no jurisdiction because there is no federal law to protect them.

The only recourse for gay and lesbians who are discriminated against is to pursue options they may have under a state, county or municipal law, according to Hollander.  In Illinois, where Hollander is based, if a gay or lesbian person is denied a job or terminated because of their sexual orientation, they can file a charge under the Illinois Human Rights Act.

He said the problem is that state laws afford no punitive damages and produce low compensatory damages. He added, "It's a very lengthy process and is very discouraging for an individual."

Hollander said what needs to happen is for Congress to enact laws protecting gays and lesbians in the workplace, to put them on the same footing as everybody else. "We are a few years away from it," he said.

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