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LGBTQ rights may be established by city ordinance

Several major Texas cities are awaiting the outcome of a court case where each side is proclaiming that the U.S. Constitution favors their position. At issue is the right of those in the LGBTQ community to live and work free from discrimination. The state has no laws protecting the group from employment discrimination, but several cities have passed non-discrimination ordinances.

In one city, a lawsuit was brought by a conservative Christian group challenging the ordinance on the grounds it would not allow religious organizations the right to refuse to hire applicants who were openly gay or transgender. A second party joined the lawsuit and expanded the claim to object to the ordinance on grounds of housing as well as employment. The essence of the lawsuit is that implementation of the ordinance will substantially burden the complainants' free exercise of religion.

The city that seeks to have the constitutionality of its ordinance upheld argues two points in defense. First, the city is not enforcing the anti-discrimination law as it applies to religious organizations, so they have suffered no harm. Secondly, a U.S. Supreme Court case is cited as precedent that religious beliefs cannot justify discrimination. Other cities are reportedly contemplating joining the lawsuit to further argue for the constitutionality of the ordinance.

Workplace discrimination cases that pit employer rights against employee rights are becoming more prevalent. Even where there is no specific state law on point, the EEOC is a federal agency established to interpret and enforce federal laws prohibiting discrimination. A workplace discrimination lawyer may explain the complexities of workplace discrimination, sexual harassment, retaliation and other employment related issues.

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