The Lincoln, Nebraska City Council recently voted to pass an ordinance prohibiting workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The ordinance will take effect on May 29th unless opponents gather 2,500 voter signatures, which would put the ordinance to a public vote. The ordinance might also face legal challenges. The Nebraska Attorney General has argued that it might not be constitutional.
Assuming the ordinance does take effect, it will protect employees’ sexual orientation and gender identity (meaning their appearance and behavior as male or female) in the same way that it protects their race or religion. The ordinance prohibits making decisions in hiring, firing, promoting, pay, privileges, or terms of employment based on sexual orientation or gender identity. However, the ordinance does not require employers to grant special treatment in hiring based on the existing makeup of their employees. For example, employers will not be required to hire a certain number or percentage of heterosexual or homosexual employees.
The ordinance exempts religious corporations from its requirements.
Employers can take precautions to avoid violating the discrimination ordinance by evaluating their current employment practices and by updating their company’s discrimination policies.
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