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Workplace Discrimination Stopper on Tap at Statehouse

February 20, 2009

Boise, ID – An Idaho legislative committee is deciding today whether to update the Idaho Human Rights Act to add non-discrimination protections based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

Idaho Women’s Network Executive Director Donna Wade says it's needed because most folks don’t realize that even rumors about them can lead to job loss, and under current law, there’s no recourse.

"Whether it’s perception of your orientation, or your actual orientation, that’s not a valid reason for firing someone."

Wade says research has been done on what Idahoans think about the topic, and a majority support equality in the workplace.

"According to a public policy survey last year, 64 percent of Idahoans said it was not okay to discriminate based on sexual orientation."

Opponents of updating the Act say it’s not needed and say it would force small businesses to hire people they don’t want to hire. Wade says the law would not apply to small businesses and it includes religious exemptions to protect employers’ beliefs.

The Senate State Affairs Committee print hearing on the proposed amendment to the Idaho Human Rights Act gets underway today at 8:00 a.m. The research performed by Boise State University.

Deb Courson, Public News Service - ID