Tips for Good Employment Practices

After reading through the topics covered in the pages of this website, it should be clear that there is still no national consensus as to whether sexual orientation is a protected class similar to race, gender, and religious affiliation. Different branches of the federal government have differing standards in this regard, and there simply is no federal law banning discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Instead, this has largely been left up to the individual states to determine for their own businesses and residents. All companies should review the laws in their own states to make sure that they are in full compliance. For companies that have offices located in multiple states, said companies should follow the laws of the state that has strict requirements in this area. For example: If a company has offices in Massachusetts and in Virginia, the company should follow the strict non-discrimination laws of Massachusetts, rather than the non-existent counterparts in Virginia. In addition to the benefit of curbing such discrimination, this will help ensure that a company has one set of standards, policies, and laws to which it adheres.

If a company only exists in a state that has no such non-discrimination laws, it may still be in the best interests of said company to create company-specific policies that bar such discrimination. Many of the court cases cited on the Court Cases page were based on interpretations of the 14th amendment of the United States Constitution, which grants equal protection to all citizens under the law. As society becomes more accepting of homosexuality and bisexuality, such constitutional interpretations in support of protection on the basis of sexual orientation will result in a decrease in the acceptance of discrimination on such a basis. A company's public image can be dealt a severe blow if it is seen to be practicing such discrimination.

For such companies not covered under Federal, State, or Local laws banning sexual orientation discrimination, said companies will benefit from creating company policies that specifically prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in their hiring practices and in their termination practices. Protection from harassment should also be included. Many companies, organizations, and institutions already have such policies in place.

Finally, companies can make other efforts to provide a more welcoming environment for LGBT employees. Instead of inviting spouses to major company functions, the term "partners" can be used to include LGBT employees as well as non-married employees. Companies can extend health benefits to domestic partners as well as retirement and life insurance benefits. Finally, companies can implement diversity training programs that include sexual orientation among the list of minority classes.