The City of Houston recently joined a number of cities that have passed their own anti-discrimination ordinances in an attempt to add coverage for sexual orientation and trans-gender discrimination, which are not explicitly covered under Texas or federal law. The attached FAQ answers the most common questions about this law, including coverage thresholds, penalties, and the procedure for filing complaints. It is a must-read for Houston employers.
One important thing to keep in mind is that, although federal and state law does not explicitly outlaw discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or trans-gender status, there have been many courts who have read such protections into the longstanding prohibition of “sex” or “gender” discrimination. Although Houston’s new city ordinance adds a new layer of workplace regulation, perhaps the most important takeaway is that this ordinance will spotlight the new protected classifications and could prompt increased litigation generally in this area of the law.