Outten & Golden: Empowering Employees in the Workplace

Posts Tagged ‘Igor Volsky’

BREAKING: White House To Delay Implementation Of Key Anti-Discrimination Order

Thursday, April 12th, 2012

Igor VolskyAfter months of dodging questions about the progress of an executive order prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in federal contracting, the White House won’t issue the directive, but will instead study whether gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender employees require employment protections, ThinkProgress has learned. The news comes after White House senior advisor Valerie Jarrett held a meeting with LGBT advocates to discuss the matter.

Existing studies suggest that 11 to 16 million additional employees would have gained protections as a result of the measure, since many “federal contractors do not currently have those policies, and they employ millions of workers.” Among them are Jarrod Scarbrough and Les Sewell, a gay couple who attended Monday’s Easter Egg Roll at the White House to ask Obama to sign the order. “Jarrod works for a company that the government contracts through, and we live in New Mexico — we’re actually protected, we don’t have to worry too much about being discriminated against. However, in June we’re moving to Florida where that protection, we’ll no longer have that,” Sewell explained during an appearance on MSNBC. “Without this administrative action, Jarrod could lose his job and then where would this family be?”

Equality advocates who had been working to advance the measure are asking similar questions. “Today’s news that the White House’s Council of Economic Advisors will launch a study to better understand workplace discrimination against gay and transgender Americans is confounding and disappointing,” said Winnie Stachelberg, the Executive Vice President for External Affairs at the Center for American Progress. “The President should use his executive authority to extend existing nondiscrimination requirements of federal contractors to include sexual orientation and gender identity,” she added.

Earlier this month, 72 Congressional lawmakers urged the administration to enact the order, noting that it would “extend important workplace protections to millions of Americans, while at the same time laying the groundwork for Congressional passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA).” Data show that “43 percent of LGB people and 90 percent of transgender people have experienced workplace discrimination” and that the overwhelming majority of Americans — 73 percent — would have supported a measure prohibiting it.

The delay represents a departure for the president who committed to supporting a “formal written policy of non-discrimination that includes sexual orientation and gender identity or expression…for all Federal contractors” as a candidate in 2008 and pledged to fight for the community in 2009 and 2011. “I’m here with a simple message: I’m here with you in that fight,” Obama told the Human Rights Campaign in 2009, adding, “Nobody in America should be fired because they’re gay, despite doing a great job and meeting their responsibilities. It’s not fair. It’s not right. We’re going to put a stop to it.”

This blog originally appeared in ThinkProgress on April 11, 2012. Reprinted with permission.

*Disclaimer: The thoughts and opinions of this author are his own and not those of Workplace Fairness.

About the Author: Igor Volsky is the Health Care and LGBT Editor for ThinkProgress.org at the Center for American Progress Action Fund. Igor is co-author of Howard Dean’s Prescription for Real Healthcare Reform and has appeared on MSNBC, CNN, Fox Business, Fox News, and CNBC television, and has been a guest on many radio shows. Prior to joining the Center, Igor interned with Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR), hosted his own political radio show at Marist College, and edited and published a political newspaper in high school. Igor grew up in Russia, Israel, and New Jersey.

Catholic Hospitals Can’t Discriminate Based On Sex In Hiring, Shouldn’t Discriminate Based On Sex In Coverage

Thursday, February 9th, 2012

Igor VolskyDemocrats took to the House floor last night to defend President Obama’s regulation requiring employers and insurers to provide a wide range of health care benefits in their insurance plans, including contraception coverage. Houses of worship and non-profits primarily employing and serving those of the same faith are exempt from the requirement.

Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY) made a particularly persuasive case, arguing that the federal law treats Catholic affiliated institutions like colleges, universities, and hospitals as employers and requires that they follow standard employment laws and regulations and treat all employees fairly. And while the government would never muddle in a church’s religious operations — for instance, it would never ask that it take on female priests, it would object to it turning away female doctors from its hospitals or refusing to perform a certain medical procedure that undermines the liberties of the patient.
These organizations — which receive tax benefits from the federal government — can’t discriminate in their hiring practices or general operations and they shouldn’t discriminate against sex in the coverage they offer to their employees. Here is how Nadler put it:

NADLER: The difference here is that churches are and should be protected in their religious role. Protected against having to violate their religious views. But they must not be protected in their role as employers. We permit a church, for example, to discriminate a religious practice. No one asks the Catholic Church how come you do not permit women priests, that’s their business. But we do not permit them to discriminate as employers. We do not permit a religious hospital or university to say we will not permit the hiring of female doctors or female professors or black doctors or nurses because that would impinge on liberty. […]

The church can preach its views, it can seek to persuade people, but it cannot coerce people who may work for a church affiliated university or hospital that they may not use contraceptives if they want to. The liberty here is the liberty of the employee that must be protected. The liberty of the church must be protected in its churchly function and in its function as a religious institution. In its function as an employer, the liberty belongs to the employees and that is the distinction that is made here. It is the proper distinction.

This blog originally appeared in ThinkProgress on February 9, 2012. Reprinted with permission.

About the Author: Igor Volsky is the Health Care and LGBT Editor for ThinkProgress.org at the Center for American Progress Action Fund. Igor is co-author of Howard Dean’s Prescription for Real Healthcare Reform and has appeared on MSNBC, CNN, Fox Business, Fox News, and CNBC television, and has been a guest on many radio shows. Prior to joining the Center, Igor interned with Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR), hosted his own political radio show at Marist College, and edited and published a political newspaper in high school. Igor grew up in Russia, Israel, and New Jersey.

Your Rights Job Survival The Issues Features Resources About This Blog