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Posts Tagged ‘Zack Ford’

Extreme Bill Would Override All Local Employment Laws, Including LGBT Protections

Wednesday, May 20th, 2015

Zack FordDuring a meeting of the Michigan House Committee on Commerce and Trade, Republican lawmakers sneakily introduced a substitute bill replacing HB 4052. The new legislation, sponsored by Rep. Earl Poleski (R), overrides all local ordinances governing employers’ relationships with their employees. Because of the way it would impose state control, opponents have dubbed it the “Death Star” bill. Not only does it have implications for any local ordinance that controls minimum wage, benefits, sick leave, union organizing and strikes, wage disputes, apprenticeship programs, and “ban the box” policies (blocking employers from asking about felony convictions), but it would also override the LGBT protections that exist in 38 Michigan municipalities.

“A local governmental body,” the new HB 4052 reads, “shall not adopt, enforce, or administer an ordinance, local policy, or local resolution regulating the relationship between an employer and its employees or potential employees if the regulation contains requirements exceeding those imposed by state or federal law.” Because state law does not include employment protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity, all of the municipalities who do protect LGBT workers would have their ordinances voided, similar to a law that passed earlier this year in Arkansas.

East Lansing Mayor Nathan Triplett (D) posted on Facebook Tuesday expressing great concern about the bill’s consideration, noting it would invalidate not only its LGBT protections, but also its Equal Benefits Ordinance, which requires the city’s contractors to offer partner benefits to employees’ same-sex partners. Describing Tuesday’s committee hearing, Triplett explained, “When State Representative Stephanie Chang pointed out that the bill would

invalidate Michigan’s 38 local nondiscrimination ordinances, the Chairman was forced to ask: ‘Will this bill really do that?’ The answer is: yes, absolutely.” East Lansing was the first community in the country to protect against discrimination based on sexual orientation; its first ordinance became law in 1972.

The “Death Star” may be one of the most sweeping preemptive bills ever considered in any state. Ten states have passed bills prohibiting cities from enacting paid sick day policies, legislation championed by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). Last month, Oklahoma lawmakers passed a law overriding local bans on fracking. Michigan itself tried to preempt local minimum wage laws over a decade ago, but then-Gov. Jennifer Granholm (D) vetoed the bill, and Wisconsin lawmakers failed to pass a similar bill last year.

Michigan Democrats have been pushing for LGBT nondiscrimination protections at the state level, but have so far been unsuccessful. Republican lawmakers are also considering a Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), like those recently considered in Indiana and Arkansas, but Gov. Rick Snyder (R) has said he won’t sign such a bill if LGBT protections aren’t passed as well.

This blog was originally posted on May 13, 2015 on Think Progress. Reprinted with permission.

About the Author: The author’s name is Zack Ford. Zack Ford is the editor of ThinkProgress LGBT at the Center for American Progress Action Fund, hailing from the small town of Newport, PA. Prior to joining ThinkProgress, Zack blogged for two years at ZackFordBlogs.com with occasional cross-posts at Pam’s House Blend. He also co-hosts a popular LGBT-issues podcast called Queer and Queerer with activist and performance artist Peterson Toscano. A graduate of Ithaca College (B.M. Music Education) and Iowa State University (M.Ed. Higher Education), Zack is an accomplished pianist with a passion for social justice education. Follow him on Twitter at @ZackFord.

New Study Confirms Overwhelming Support for LGBT Workplace Protections

Thursday, October 27th, 2011

Zack FordResults from the 2010 Out & Equal Workplace Survey show this week that 78 percent of heterosexual adults agree that employees should be evaluated for their job performance, not their sexual orientation. In addition, 62 percent support providing equal benefits for all employees’ partners or spouses. Here are a few more key findings from the Out & Equal Workplace Survey:

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  • 66 percent of heterosexuals were neutral or disagreed that they’d be uncomfortable knowing a coworker was LGBT.
  • 61 percent of heterosexuals were neutral or disagreed that they’d be uncomfortable if their boss was LGBT.
  • Only 18 percent of respondents agreed it would be difficult to be openly LGBT in the workplace.
  • Only 44 percent of heterosexuals agreed that LGBT people are treated fairly and equally in the workplace.

These data match similar results from a Center for American Progress study released in June, which also found that 90 percent of Americans already think LGBT people are protected from workplace discrimination, even though in most states they are not. Given the overwhelming support for workplace protections — not to mention belief that they already exist — as well as the endorsement of both small businesses and large corporations, passing LGBT non-discrimination policies on both the state and national level should be a no-brainer. Not only do businesses benefit, but the protections allow both LGBT employees and their coworkers to flourish.

Nevertheless, Republican leadership continues to oppose LGBT equality in ways that hurt businesses. Michigan conservatives are trying to follow Tennessee’s atrocious example of banningmunicipalities from passing employment protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity. In addition, GOP-led efforts to ban marriage equality in states like Minnesota and North Carolina, as well as at the national level, hurt businesses who strive to hire and retain talented and productive staff. Opposing LGBT equality is anti-business and anti-jobs, in addition to being completely out of touch with voters.

*Disclaimer: The opinions and views of this blog are the opinions of the author’s alone and not of Workplace Fairness.

This blog originally appeared on ThinkProgress on October 26, 2011. Reprinted with permission.

About the Author: Zack Ford is an LGBT researcher/blogger for ThinkProgress.org at the Center for American Progress Action Fund. Prior to joining ThinkProgress, Zack blogged for two years at ZackFordBlogs.com with occasional cross-posts at Pam’s House Blend. He also co-hosts a popular LGBT-issues podcast calledQueer and Queerer with activist and performance artist Peterson Toscano. An accomplished pianist, Zack has a bachelor’s in Music Education from Ithaca College, where he served as student body president. His passion, however, is social justice education and advocacy, having completed a Master’s in Higher Education Student Affairs from Iowa State University and helped to found the Central Pennsylvania LGBT Aging Network. He’s originally (and proudly) from rural central Pennsylvania.

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