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Texas Senate considers long-shot LGBT-rights law

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Human Resources

The Texas Senate is considering a bill that would ban discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgendered employees and job applicants. Introduced by Sen. Leticia Van de Putte and pending in the Senate Economic Development Committee, S.B. 237 would prohibit employment discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression.

It would also outlaw the practice of failing to hire or segregating employees based on their gender preferences.

Current Texas labor laws only prohibit discrimination on the basis of color, religion, disability, national origin, race or sex.

The new legislation would allow workers who suffer employment discrimination because of their sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression to file complaints with the Texas Workforce Commission. It would not, however, amend the state labor code to allow them to file civil lawsuits.

Five of the six most populous Texas municipalities—Austin, Dallas, El Paso, Fort Worth and Houston—have outlawed employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The new legislation would implement those worker protections statewide.

S.B. 237 has the support of many different constituencies, including some of Texas’ largest employers. However, other business groups and conservative Christian coalitions oppose it. Austin legislative handicappers give it little chance of passing or being enacted.

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