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PACE targets HB 402

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LOUISIANA -

Adrienne Critcher works with People Acting for Change Equality, PACE, fighting especially hard when it comes to workplace treatment. She says House Bill 402 is an example of backdoor discrimination against lesbian, gay, transgender, and bisexual, LGBT, Louisianans.

"It's targeted at the gay community, but of course it doesn't mention gay people," Critcher says. "They hope to kind of sneak this by without [people] noticing."

HB 402 would throw out and consider frivolous any suits filed for employment discrimination for reasons other than those already covered by the state: age, disability, race, color, religion, sex, national origin, pregnancy, childbirth and related medical conditions, sickle cell trait, and genetic discrimination.

Sexual orientation and gender identity are not on list.

Rep. Alan Seabaugh (R-Caddo) sponsors the bill. He says he simply wants to save the court system time and money, while clarifying the law.

"We're not going to let the courts be a fishing expedition," Seabaugh says. "We're not going to allow people to file suit outside of what the legislature's already defined."

Bill opponents say the passage of HB 402 could force LGBT workers to pay damages and court costs to their employer when their cases are dismissed, even though federal law allows transgender citizens to file workplace discrimination lawsuits.

Critcher says if HB 402 passes into law, gay rights advocates will likely challenge it, costing the state more money.

"Talk about frivolous lawsuits," Critcher says. "Alan Seabaugh is going to get us embroiled in unnecessary lawsuits and litigation when the state of Louisiana doesn't have any spare money to do that."

Critcher said PACE supports House Bill 85 from Rep. Austin J. Badon, Jr. (D- Orleans). HB 85 would protect LGBT workers in the public sector by making it illegal to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.

 

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