February 19, 2021
HR Policy called on congressional leadership to pass the recently reintroduced Equality Act, which would add sexual orientation and gender identity protections to federal civil rights laws and is expected to see a floor vote next week.
Our letter to House Leadership states: “Our members have a longstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion, and they take proactive steps to ensure their companies are fostering positive and respectful cultures, free from any form of discrimination.”
The Supreme Court ruled in 2020 that Title VII employment protections include sexual orientation and gender identity. The Equality Act would enshrine the ruling into law, while clarifying other issues left unresolved by that decision.
Questions about data collection and other issues: In a 2019 hearing, Seyfarth Shaw's Larry Lorber, former Director of the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, noted in his testimony that “H.R. 5 is silent as to whether employers may request employees to set forth their sexual orientation or gender identity or in fact whether the EEOC will require that such record-keeping commence,” and that Congress should address this and other issues so that employers and workers fully understand their rights and responsibilities. Mr. Lorber testified as an expert witness, neither supporting nor opposing the measure.
Only eight Republican representatives supported the measure in 2019, when it passed the House. If it again passes the House in the coming weeks, the bill is expected to face an uphill battle gaining the needed Republican votes in the Senate.