Home Back Issues March 2013 The next four years: the LGBT community and the new normal

The next four years: the LGBT community and the new normal

| Print |  Email
Articles - March 2013
Monday, February 25, 2013

BY SUSAN K. EGGUM

Following the reelection of President Obama, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) formally approved a Strategic Enforcement Plan (SEP) for the next four years that will rock the world of employers that have class-wide practices that discriminate against protected workers. In addition to publicly encouraging protected workers to initiate a claim with the EEOC, the agency will also search for and initiate investigations of employers across the nation.

Among other issues, the EEOC plans to target employers with employment practices or policies that display a bias based on sexual orientation. The agency plans to follow recent federal circuit court interpretations of the scope of Title VII in search of employers that overtly or covertly discriminate in any unlawful way against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) employees. The EEOC’s scope will include individual managers and the entity for which the manager works.

In December 2008, just a few months before President Obama selected EEOC Chief Jacquelin Berrien, the Newsweek/Princeton Research survey was published, reporting that more than seven in 10 Americans believe that same-sex couples should have inheritance rights, Social Security benefits, insurance benefits and hospital visitation rights. President Obama stated that Jacquelin Berrien “has spent her entire career fighting to give voice to underrepresented communities and protect our most basic rights.” The year following Chair Berrien’s tenure (in March 2011), the HRC/Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research survey was published, reporting that a majority of Americans supported repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which defines marriage as a legal union only between a man and a woman.

Then, on November 10, 2012, following President Obama’s reelection, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted 10-8 in favor of advancing the Respect for Marriage (RFMA) bill to the Senate floor. RFMA proposes the repeal of federal law that defines marriage as a union between one man and one woman. On January 21, 2013, President Obama stated: “Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law.” If RFMA is passed by the 113th Congress, then the federal law will require the provision to same-sex couples of the full range of benefits offered opposite-sex couples, including benefits under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, the Internal Revenue Code and Title II of the Social Security Act.

In 2004 Oregon’s constitution was amended by popular vote to provide in Article XV, Section 5a, that “only a marriage between one man and one woman shall be valid or legally recognized as a marriage.” Nevertheless, in response to national and state governmental and legislative changes intended to be inclusive of the LGBT community, thousands of Oregon employers have adopted personnel policy and employee benefit packages that provide employees with same-sex partners the same benefits historically offered to employees whose partners are of the opposite sex. Such employers are less likely to be the subject of an EEOC local district enforcement inquiry under the SEP, and if selected for investigation, those employers will be a step ahead in credibility and in controlling EEOC litigation risk and costs.

0313 BOB LegalBenefitsSusan K. Eggum is a shareholder at Lane Powell, where she focuses her practice in the areas of employment and employer-related business, and business tort litigation. Susan is a member of the firm’s Diversity Committee. She can be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

 

More Articles

Election Season

November/December 2014
Wednesday, October 22, 2014

We didn’t intend this issue to have an election season theme. But politics has a way of seeping into the cracks and fissures.


Read more...

The short list: 5 companies making a mint off kale

The Latest
Thursday, November 20, 2014
kale-thumbnailBY OB STAFF

Farmers, grocery stores and food processors cash in on kale.


Read more...

Water World

November/December 2014
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
BY KIM MOORE

Fred Ziari aims to feed the global population.


Read more...

OB Poll: Wineries and groceries

News
Friday, October 24, 2014

24-winethumbA majority of respondents agreed: Local vineyards should remain Oregon-owned and quality is the most important factor when determining where to eat or buy groceries.


Read more...

Measure 91: What Oregon Businesses Need to Know

Contributed Blogs
Wednesday, October 15, 2014
91 thumbBY DIANE BUISMAN

Some common misconceptions employers have about marijuana.


Read more...

Innovation: a critique

News
Wednesday, October 08, 2014
1008 innovation thumbBY LINDA BAKER | OB EDITOR

A Design Week panel discussion raises questions about how innovative we really are.


Read more...

Healthcare pullback

News
Thursday, November 20, 2014
112014-boehnercare-thumbBY JASON NORRIS | OB CONTRIBUTOR

Each month for Oregon Business, we assess factors that are shaping current capital market activity—and what they mean to investors. Here we take a look at two major developments regarding possible rollbacks of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS