CNNMoney is reporting that for the first time ever, every company on the Fortune Best Companies list has a policy in place aimed at ending discrimination based on sexual orientation.
Cases of discrimination in Boston have no place in business. Discrimination at work can range from disability to age and gender all the way to race, sexual orientation and pregnancy.
Boston employment lawyers applaud these companies for including a sexual orientation discrimination policy, but recognize this doesn’t mean employees will remain unaffected by potential sexual-orientation discrimination while they work.
Companies can have the best-worded policies and scores of training sessions, but still have employees who choose to break these rules. That puts the company at risk for liability and also puts the victim in a difficult position at work. It would be a perfect world if we could eliminate problems for all parties.
According to the news article, the improvement of all companies having a sexual orientation non-discrimination policy in place has been a gradual development. In 2008, 95 of the top 100 companies had such a policy and that number climbed to 99 last year.
Perhaps the next policy to change is that of benefits for same-sex couples. Currently, 89 of the 100 companies provide benefits, which is a large increase compared to five years ago, when 70 of the 100 companies had such a rule in place. Currently, 86 percent of Fortune 500 companies have non-discrimination policies in place that deal with sexual orientation, an increase from 61 percent in 2002.
These are important procedures to have in place. Still, such policies don’t always stop these forms of discrimination from happening. If employees or supervisors fail to hire someone and make comments that he or she wasn’t qualified based on their sexual orientation, the company can be opened up to legal problems. This can also happen in cases of choosing employees for promotions and training as well.
The way to stop discrimination in Boston businesses is to create an environment where it isn’t tolerated. This can sometimes be accomplished by in-house procedures and firings. Sometimes, though, that’s not enough.
Often, bringing a formal discrimination complaint and subsequent legal action is the only way to make sure that company leaders aren’t allowing this behavior to continue. Policies are one thing, but making sure employees are aware of the rules is a whole other thing. The company must protect itself, but it also must treat workers fairly.
M.G.L.c. 151B, §4 states that it is unlawful for an employer to discriminate against a worker based on his or her sexual orientation. As LGBT rights are increased throughout the country, undoubtedly more and more conflicts will arise. Issues dealing with gender discrimination had to be dealt with. Same with race and national origin. After litigation on these matters, along with pregnancy, disability and other issues, sexual orientation may well be the next battleground.
A Boston business law firm, The Brown Law Firm, LLC, has offices in Belmont and Boston. For a free and confidential consultation, call Attorney Graeme Brown at 617-489-0817 or contact us through this website.
More Blog Entries:
Golinski v. United States: A Look at Employee-Employer Issues Involving DOMA and Gay Marriage in Massachusetts: October 18, 2011
Best Companies list hits gay rights milestone, by James O’Toole, CNNMoney