On Thursday afternoon, the Senate made history when it passed a bill that would ban discrimination against an employee based on sexual orientation or gender identity. It is, perhaps that latter part of the legislation that is most surprising, since as recently as 2007 some Democrats thought including transgender individuals under these protections would amount to its death sentence.
But first, a little context: At the federal level, there are a number of laws that prevent an employer from discriminating against members of certain marginalized groups. For instance, as an employer, you cannot discriminate against someone on the basis of their race, color, religion, national origin, age, sex, citizenship, familial status, disability, veteran status, whether or not they are pregnant or may become pregnant in the future or their genetic information.
But those protections don't extend to gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender people. This means that if a man in Arkansas posts a picture on a social media site with his partner, his employer can fire him for no reason other than the presumed knowledge of his sex life outside of work. This means that a future employer can look to this very article to decide whether or not they want to hire me, a transgender woman.
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