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Senate seeks to strengthen gay employee rights


The Fair Labor Standards Act was created to protect workers from retaliation and exploitation. It also defines the minimum wage, which depends on the state, and the right of workers to receive overtime pay when they put in more than 40 hours of work per week. Child labor is also prohibited in the FLSA, especially if the job poses serious health risks. Workplace discrimination based on race, age, religion and gender is also prohibited under the law.

In some states in the country, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals continue to experience workplace discrimination because there is no law to protect them. The effect is a form of workplace bias because LGBTs may be denied the right of promotion and may even be rejected for employment.

The Senate is now discussing a bill that will widen the federal nondiscrimination law to include the LGBT community. According to one senator, if a person should not be discriminated against based on national origin, religion, race or sex, then no one should be discriminated against based on sexual orientation.

Republicans are proposing a change in the bill to exempt religious institutions that refuse to hire LGBT employees. Nevertheless, the bill's sponsors are confident that they will achieve the minimum 60 votes, which would allow the bill to be discussed in the Senate. President Barack Obama supports the bill because it provides greater opportunity for LGBT individuals, which can help move the economy toward prosperity.

New York is one of 21 states that protect LGBT workers from any form of discrimination. Gay workers who experience workplace discrimination, such as the denial of promotion, may exercise their employee rights and file a claim. In Tarrytown, New York, and around the country, any workers who are subjected to discrimination may speak with an employment legal professional to discuss their legal options.

Source: nytimes.com, "Bill Advances to Outlaw Discrimination Against Gays," Jeremy W. Peters, Nov. 4, 2013

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