Va. lawmakers introduce LGBT workplace protections bills for public employees


RICHMOND, Va. — It is still legal to fire someone in Virginia because they are gay, but two state lawmakers have introduced legislation hoping to change that for state and municipal workers.

VirginiaThe bills, authored by State Sens. Adam Ebbin (D-Alexandria) and Don McEachin (D-Richmond), would expand workplace protections in all public jobs to include sexual orientation and gender identity.

The bills would apply to all public jobs, from teachers to city and state employees, but not the private sector.

Currently, state law only prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions.

“It is past time for the legislature to enact protections against discrimination for all state and local workers, including lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender workers,” said the Virginia ACLU in a statement on their RichmondSunlight page.

Equality Virginia (EV) echoed this sentiment saying workplace protections for LGBTQ Virginians was the organization’s number one priority this GA session.

“People shouldn’t be fired, not hired, or threatened at work for their actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity,” said James Parish on EV’s GA website. “Seventy five percent of Virginians favor a law that would protect LGBT people from workplace discrimination, and it’s time for our laws to catch up.”

Virginia’s LGBTQ state employees are currently protected by Gov. McAuliffe’s Executive Order 1 which expanded protections to include sexual orientation and gender identity. Executive Order 1 was signed the first day McAuliffe took office and was part of his campaign promise to support sexual minorities in the Commonwealth.

This is not the first time elected officials have hoped to expand protections.

Last year, two bills were submitted, but both were killed in Republican-dominated committees.

In 2013, a similar workplace protection bill passed the Senate subcommittee and made it out of the Senate floor, but failed to make it out of the House subcommittee.

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