Republicans want us to believe that there is no such thing as anti-LGBT workplace bias. In fact, several Republicans have claimed that there are no cases of people being fired for being lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual or downright queer. But it still happens, and Freedom to Work was there on Capitol Hill to lobby Congress. They explained:
Shari Hutchinson – a Cleveland, OH resident who joined Freedom to Work’s Speakers Bureau in 2011 after she secured a successful six-figure settlement from her sexual orientation bias case based on the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution – joined Freedom to Work in the nation’s capital this week to share her story with lawmakers and senior policy makers at the same time Congress is considering federal legislation and the Obama Administration is considering an executive order to ban workplace discrimination against LGBT Americans. Ohio laws currently do not protect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) employees, and Hutchinson would not have been able to bring any lawsuit for workplace discrimination if she had worked for a private sector employer in Ohio.
As Hutchinson joined Freedom to Work president, Tico Almeida, in DC this week as part of the organization’s “We Can’t Wait” campaign, hundreds of her fellow Ohioans lobbied for state-level anti-LGBT discrimination laws as part of Equality Ohio’s Lobby Day yesterday.
“We were thrilled to help Shari meet with senior policy makers in Washington DC this week as part of our ongoing “We Can’t Wait” campaign,” said Tico Almeida, president of Freedom to Work. “In both the nation’s and Ohio’s capital yesterday, hundreds of LGBT grassroots advocates, like Shari, were putting a human face to the issue of workplace discrimination and harassment. They are our best advocates for LGBT workplace fairness in America and it is their real-life, courageous struggles to win the freedom to work without harassment or discrimination that will change hearts and minds. We look forward to flying in many more LGBT Americans from around the country in the weeks and months to come as part of our ‘We Can’t Wait’ campaign.”
“I traveled from Cleveland to our nation’s capital to let our senators know that anti-gay workplace discrimination hurts real people and our family members in places like Ohio,” said Hutchinson. “That’s why we need both a state law and a federal law to give LGBT Americans the freedom to work without harassment or discrimination on the job. I met with staff for Senator Sherrod Brown and thanked him for co-sponsoring ENDA. I also met with staff for Senator Rob Portman, and urged him to join with other Republican Senators who already support this commonsense proposal for LGBT workplace fairness.”
Lawyer Elizabeth Rothenberg, an attorney at Avery Friedman & Associates in Cleveland, Ohio who represented Hutchinson in her 2011 lawsuit, said, “As the facts of Shari’s case were unearthed through depositions, it became clear that the high cost of anti-LGBT discrimination extended beyond Shari to the taxpayers. Not only did the County waste an incredible amount of money defending the lawsuit only to settle on the eve of trial, but less qualified and often unskilled employees were promoted year after year in a continued effort to keep Shari from advancing.”
“Complementary and collaborative efforts to pass non-discrimination laws on the local, state and federal level are critical,” says Ed Mullen, Executive Director of Equality Ohio, which is hosting its 7th Annual Lobby Day on May 16 in the Ohio Statehouse. “Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people should not be fired or denied promotions because of who they are, and protection from discrimination should not be based on where someone lives.”
Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) has announced that he will hold a Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions (HELP) Committee hearing on ENDA next month, and Freedom to Work continues to advocate for President Obama to sign an executive order banning workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity at the companies that profit from taxpayer-funded government contracts.