Under Indiana and federal law, employees have the right to be treated fairly and in accordance with the treatment of other employees with similar training, education and experience. Employers may not legally subject an employee or groups of employees to more punitive treatment because of their membership in a group defined as a protected classes under law. Protected classes include race, national origin, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity and religion.
Sexual discrimination in any aspect of employment is against the law in Indiana and across the United States. This includes all areas of hiring, training, job assignments, promotion, benefits, firing and all other work-related conditions. Policies not necessary to the operation of a business that apply to all employees may even be considered discriminatory if they result in a negative effect on the employment of individuals of a particular sex.
According to the Indiana Civil Rights Commission, there is probable cause to move forward with discrimination cases brought by two former employees of a Greenfield business. The former employees alleged that they were the subjects of race discrimination. The decision means that there is enough evidence to suggest that there was a violation of Indiana Civil Rights Law, and the case may proceed to either mediation or litigation.
Many Indiana residents are aware of the ongoing national debate regarding gay rights. While federal laws are in place to guard against race discrimination in the workplace, efforts to expand this protection to cover bias based on an individual's sexual orientation have so far proved unsuccessful. The Senate approved such a measure in 2013, but the initiative has subsequently stalled in the House of Representatives.
A federal complaint was filed against Indiana University Northwest by an assistant professor in the school's English department. The female employee is stating that she was denied tenure and lost her position because she is openly gay, and is claiming unlawful sex discrimination.
Indiana professors might interested in an internal report from UCLA that indicated that the university's policies are inadequate to handle complaints concerning racial bias. Faculty members who were interviewed for the 2012 review stated that the university seemed more focused on placating the offended faculty member than punishing the one who had committed the offense.
While heartland states like Indiana are often considered less progressive than states on either coast, discrimination on the basis of sexual preference heeds no geographical boundaries. Cities and professions that are often thought of as liberal see their share of workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation as well.
As a reader of our blog, you may already know that the Civil Rights Act protects you from discrimination in the workplace based on religion, age, race, ethnicity, national origin and gender. But what about sexual orientation and gender identity? Does the bill extend rights in these circumstances as well? You might be surprised to learn that in many states this isn't the case and even here in Indiana the law does not provide definitive protection against wrongful termination or retaliation for people who are lesbian, gay, bi-sexual or transgender (LGBT).
Did you know that it's considered legal to fire someone for being gay in 29 states and for being transgender in 34 states? If you didn't, don't worry, you're like a majority of people across the United States, including many here in Indiana, who may not be aware of the fact that LGBT employees are not as protected as we may think in the workplace. More surprising still, even many state legislators are under the impression that laws are already in place to protect these workers and have even voted against new legislation that would make it illegal to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.