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Fighting Discrimination in NV, by Law and by Choice

PHOTO: CH2M Hill is one company on the Equality Forum list, for its efforts to foster a diverse and inclusive engineering workforce. Here, employees represent the firm at a high school and college career fair (in Milwaukee, Wisc.) Courtesy of CH2M Hill.
PHOTO: CH2M Hill is one company on the Equality Forum list, for its efforts to foster a diverse and inclusive engineering workforce. Here, employees represent the firm at a high school and college career fair (in Milwaukee, Wisc.) Courtesy of CH2M Hill.
August 24, 2012

LAS VEGAS - Some Nevada firms are "top of the class" for their workplace anti-discrimination policies.

The Equity Forum has released its Fortune 500 Non-Discrimination Project, and found that a record 479 companies are compliant, or voluntarily include sexual orientation in their non-discrimination policies.

Two big casino corporations are among them: Harrah's Entertainment and MGM Mirage.

Nevada also has state laws to protect workers against this type of discrimination. But in most places, according to Malcom Lazin, Equality Forum executive director, that still isn't the case.

"In most states, there is no protection - so literally, one can be fired simply because of their status of being gay or lesbian, bisexual or transgender, without any reference whatsoever to any misconduct of any sort."

Since his group announced the survey results last week, Lazin says, two more companies have added protections for LGBT workers to their rules. That brings the total to just about 95 percent. When they started the survey eight years ago, he says, only about two-thirds of companies had these policies in writing.

Lazin hopes the survey raises questions in the presidential race as well. Of the candidates and their running mates, he says Gov. Mitt Romney is the only one who has not voiced support for changing the federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act to include LGBT workers.

"If he believes that there should not be discrimination in the workplace, then why should not that include, specifically, sexual orientation and gender identity as it includes virtually every other possible category?"

Lazin says a number of the Fortune 500 companies have offered to testify in favor of amending the federal law - a bipartisan effort which, so far, has been stuck in Congress.

The full study is online at equalityforum.com/fortune500.

Chris Thomas, Public News Service - NV