All hard-working employees should have the chance to earn a living and provide for themselves and their families. No one should live in fear that they can be fired for reasons that have nothing to do with their job performance nor should our state risk losing the best and brightest to other states that value diversity.
House Bill 85, the Louisiana Fair Employment Act, would amend state protections and add safeguards from discrimination in public employment based on sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression.
Currently, the cities of Lafayette, Shreveport, Baton Rouge, New Orleans, Lake Charles, and Monroe all have policies protecting public workers from employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and/or gender identity.
Protecting workers from discrimination in employment is simply good business. In 2011, it was reported that 87% of Fortune 500 companies have employment non-discrimination policies that include sexual orientation, and 41% have policies that include gender identity. All Fortune 500 companies in Louisiana (Entergy, Shaw Group and Superior Energy Services) have policies to protect employees from sexual orientation discrimination.
It’s time that our state government protects our state employees.
We are focusing on protecting public employees for a few crucial reasons:
The State of Louisiana is the largest single employer in the state. Covering the estimated 54,500 to 80,000 public employees would provide significant improvement in the number of people protected from bias and discrimination at work here in our state.
There is also the precedent that Louisiana has, though the Executive Orders of Governors Edwin Edwards and Kathleen Blanco, had these protections in place before without negative impact on the state.
Nationally, Jared Polis (D-CO) has committed to bringing forth the Employment Non Discrimination Act in this year’s Congressional session. It seems likely that this bill will pass and it will confer protections onto private employees across the nation. In the previous ENDA bills, public employers had been exempted from the act. While we haven’t seen the final version for the 113th Congress, if it is like earlier ones, this means that passing ENDA Federally would still not protect Louisiana’s state employees.
Will the effort be easy? Not at all.
However, we’ve been working since the end of last session on educating those legislators who sit on the committees where the bill will be introduced. We have teamed up with good corporate citizens to talk to the elected representatives in their districts about how beneficial for employee retention and performance having nondiscriminatory policies and workplaces are. From hospitals, to cable companies, to power companies and the film industry, we have been making the best possible business case for passage of a public ENDA here in Louisiana.
We hope that you will join us in the fight for equality in Louisiana that won’t end until all employees are free from workplace discrimination and bias.
Please contact Forum’s Executive Director, Sarah Jane Brady, if you are able to testify or work with us on the passage of this important bill.
Follow this link to find your legislators to contact them directly about why it is important they support this important bill!
Forum For Equality
336 Lafayette Street, Suite 200
New Orleans, LA 70130