News - September 1996

New job discrimination bill would protect Transfolk

On July 11, 1996, House representative Brian P. Bilbray (R-CA) introduced a new a job discrimination bill that would protect transgendered persons.

The Workplace Fairness Act (H.R. 3784) bypasses the usual "laundry list" of protected classes: race, religion, sex, etc. Instead, it simply states that people would be protected from workplace discrimination for any reason not affecting job performance. The bill is co-sponsored by outed gay Reps. Gunderson and Kolbe among others, and is considered by some to be groundbreaking in its simplicity.

One problem with the bill is that it still would let employers fire an employee for not getting along with coworkers. It's often the coworkers who can't getting along, not the transgendered worker.

This problem could be fixed, but plenty of opposition to the bill is expected anyway -- both from employers trying to protect their right to hire and fire who they want, as well as from activist groups favoring the unequivocal "laundry list" approach.

Said Dana Priesing, GenderPAC's Congressional Advocacy Coordinator: "The Workplace Fairness Act is an important first step towards outlawing *all* discrimination if a person is a competent and effective employee, and it's the first bill we've seen which covers transpeople and genderqueers.

Let your Congressional representative know you support the Workplace Fairness Act. Call 202-225-3121 and ask to speak to the representative for your district."

©1996 Oasis Magazine. All Rights Reserved.