By Alex Temblador
The Duggar family from TLC’s 19 Kids and Counting have been in the news for the past few weeks due to the recent discovery that Josh Duggar, the oldest child of the Duggar family, molested girls as a teenager which included some of his sisters. Recently, another story surfaced on Gawker that contends that Michelle Duggar, the mother, might have possibly had one of the crew members of the TLC show fired after discovering he was gay. Although it is 2015 and many might find this allegation appalling for its discrimination, what is even more astounding is that legally men and women in the United States can and have been fired for their sexual orientation and gender identity.
Currently there are no federal laws that prohibit sexual orientation or gender identity discrimination in the workplace. Race, color, religion, national origin, sex, pregnancy, age, genetics, and disability are characteristics that are protected by federal law. On the other hand, less than half of the states in the U.S. offer protection to LGBT in the workplace.
- 21 states do not offer LGBT any protection in the workplace.
- 18 states have anti-discrimination employment laws that include sexual orientation and gender identity for all residents of the state.
- 5 states protect LGBT employees who work for the state but does not protect those who don’t.
- 3 states ban discrimination against LGB employees but does not protect transgender employees.
- 2 states prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation (no protection for gender identity).
- 1 state bans discrimination based on sexual orientation but only protects transgender state employees.
Even more ironic is that there are 13 states in the U.S. where same-sex couples can get married and can also get fired for being LGBT.
There have been many advancements in anti-discrimination laws in the U.S. in the last fifty years, but still the LGBT community continues to be left out of fair and equal protection. So even though many might agree that the allegations against TLC and Michelle Duggar for firing a crew member for being gay is appalling and unjust, the sad truth is it could be entirely legal. If the story is found to be true, despite it being possibly legal, TLC could find itself at the forefront of even more scandal with audiences perhaps boycotting the network and more pressure from viewers to cancel 19 Kids and Counting.
Thankfully the Employee Non-Discrimination Act of 2013, a bill that would federally protect all LGBT from employment discrimination, is awaiting approval in the House of Representatives after being approved by the Senate in 2013. Such a law would protect LGBT from employment discrimination and would be one step toward the U.S. providing fair and equal protection for the LGBT community in the workplace just as they do for individuals of different races, gender, disabilities, and age.