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How does your business go about recruiting to the LGBT community? Do any of your advertising and marketing practices target LGBT consumers? Do you know how to assist a transgendered employee in their gender transition process at work? And what about those bathrooms—how are you addressing this issue? Workplaces have made progress towards LGBT equality yet LGBT workers still go to work every day with fear that they might lose their jobs because of whom they love and who they are. There is no federal law protecting the LGB 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 LGB 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 LGB 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 LGBT inclusion in your workforce.
As with any other organization, healthcare employs LGBT individuals who deserve to be treated with respect and dignity and feel included in their work culture and environment. When members of the LGBT community do not feel as though they are accepted by others it decreases morale, productivity, increases turnover, and may interfere with their ability to provide the best quality patient care. Treating LGBT employees with respect and dignity is not only required by the EEOC, but also by several states and some federal courts. You run the risk of liability if the LGBT population is not included in the culture of your workplace.
Dr. Susan Strauss is a national and international speaker, trainer, consultant and a recognized expert investigator on workplace and school harassment and bullying. She conducts harassment and bullying investigations and functions as an expert witness in harassment and bullying lawsuits. Her clients are from business, education, healthcare, law, and government organizations from both the public and private sector.
Dr. Strauss also provides organizational, management, and employee development by conducting training, coaching, and facilitating workshops. She has been the Director of Training and Development and consults with a variety of organizations and industries, both large and small. Susan has also been the director of Wellness and has consulted with organizations to help them design, develop, implement and evaluate their Wellness programs.
Susan has a doctorate in organizational leadership. She is a registered nurse, has a bachelor’s degree in psychology and counseling, a master’s degree in community health, and professional certificate in training and development. She has been involved in the harassment and bullying arena since 1985.