Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Attorney General Abbot Makes Best Case for ENDA Yet

According to the Dallas Voice Texas Attorney General Greg Abbot is being sued by a former employee who claims he was forced out of his job at the AG's office because he is gay.

The trial is set for an Austin court next week, Abbot, however, has asked to have the case dismissed on the grounds that there are no laws preventing discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in Texas.

There are several conflicting judicial precedents in place about whether sexual orientation is covered by other laws that prevent discrimination in the workplace. Most notable is Oncale v. Sundowner Offshore Services a 1998 Supreme Court Case said that laws forbidding sexual harassment applied to same-sex sexual harassment. But there is no clear judicial precedent, and certainly no state or federal law that would prevent Abbot from firing or harrasing a worker for being queer.

Which is interesting, because one of the arguments that is often made against passing a federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) that includes sexual orientation and gender identity and expression is the lack of need for such protections. The argument being that the established court precedent and current law provide sufficient protections.

Abbott, by claiming the legality of anti-gay discrimination, has made perhaps the best argument to date in favor of a federal ENDA.

Maybe we should write him a thank you note.