State Rep. Mike Villareal files bill that would extend employment protection to LGBT workers

Workers at risk of firing if lesbian. gay, bisexual or tran­sgender

SAN ANTONIO - After four years of trying, State Representative Mike Villarreal said he has filed House Bill 238 that would extend employment protection to workers who are risk of being fired if they are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.

Villarreal, who represents District 123, said after the historic civil rights legislation of the 1960s, it is time to set the record straight in 2012.

“If somebody shows up to work and gets the job done, it is wrong to discriminate against them based on their sexual orientation,” Villarreal said.

Chuck Smith, executive director of Equality Texas, said, “Most people incorrectly assume that is already against the law to fire somebody solely because they are gay or transgender.”

Justin Nelson, co-founder and president of the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, said it remains an issue at both the state and federal levels.

“You can still be fired if you’re gay or lesbian in 38 states. More than that if you’re transgender,” Nelson said.

Villarreal said they also suffer discrimination when it comes to salaries, promotions and job assignments.

He said his legislation would amend the current Texas Labor Code that prohibits discrimination based on race, color, disability, religion, sex, national origin or age.
Villarreal said his bill would add “sexual orientation or gender identity or expression.”

He said by doing so, it would bolster the claim, “Texas is open for business.”

“If you are competent and creative than we want you to be part of our workforce,” Villarreal said.

Villarreal said the bill’s passage still has a long way to go, but at least it is now in the Committee on Economic Development.

“The reception I have received has certainly improved,” Villarreal said.

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