A candidate in the Chicago mayor’s race was targeted recently over her support of anti-discrimination legislation introduced in Congress to protect members of the LGBTQ community against employment discrimination.
According to a March 19, 2019 NBC News report, a distribution of homophobic flyers across Chicago’s South Side portrayed mayoral candidate Lori Lightfoot as supporting a ‘Gay Equality Act’ in Illinois. While the front side of the flyers design looked as if it was being distributed by Lightfoot’s campaign election committee, the other side claimed, “All Contracts, Jobs and employment newly assigned exclusively to gay people!”
While there is no such thing as a ‘Gay Equality Act’, the flyer is likely in reference to a federal bill introduced by Democrats the previous week.
The Equality Act would amend existing civil rights legislation to ban discrimination in employment, housing, education, and other areas on the basis of gender or sexual orientation. Lightfoot was likely targeted as she is openly homosexual. Both she and her opponent in the mayor’s race, fellow Democrat Toni Preckwinkle, denounced the flyers, as did other community leaders.
“Targeting this particular candidate in this manner is a clear illustration as to why protections against employment discrimination are so important,” says attorney Jonathan C. Goldman of the Chicago employment law firm Goldman & Ehrlich.
There are several federal laws, including the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Fair Housing Act, and the Equal Credit Opportunity Act. Meant to protect people against discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. However, the Equality Act goes a step further in specifically addressing unfair actions taken against the LGBTQ community. The Illinois Human Rights Act also prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation or sexual identity. The City of Chicago and Cook County also have laws that prohibit LGBTQ discrimination.
According to research by the American Center for Progress, close to half of all gay people report experiencing some form of harassment or discrimination in the workplace.
Among transgender individuals, an alarming 90 percent report discrimination. “Screening applicants, withholding jobs and promotions, or engaging in other forms of discrimination and harassment against members of the LGBTQ community is against the law,” says Goldman. “While tougher protections are still needed, when it occurs employers can be held accountable.” Contact Goldman & Ehrlich today to discuss your case.