ACLU: Employee gay rights laws long overdue - FOX5 Vegas - KVVU

ACLU: Employee gay rights laws long overdue

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Sen. Dean Heller is in favor of a federal law prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. (FOX50 Sen. Dean Heller is in favor of a federal law prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. (FOX50

The U.S. Senate passed a vote on Monday to move forward with debating legislation that would make it illegal nationwide for any employer to discriminate against a worker based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Nevada is one of 21 states nationwide to have laws in place against this type of discrimination.

Since 1999, employer sexual orientation discrimination has been illegal, and then in 2011, state lawmakers revised it to include gender association.

Sen. Dean Heller is just a handful of Republican senators to support it on the federal level. 

He issued this statement on Monday:

"After listening to Nevadans' concerns about this issue from a variety of viewpoints and after numerous conversations with my colleagues, I feel that supporting this legislation is the right thing to do. Under the leadership of this governor, as well as the legislature over the past several years, Nevada has established a solid foundation of anti-discrimination laws. This legislation raises the federal standards to match what we have come to expect in Nevada, which is that discrimination must not be tolerated under any circumstance."

Tod Story, American Civil Liberties Union Nevada executive director, says he is surprised it hasn't already been signed into law. "It's been said that LGBT discrimination is one of the last bastions of discrimination in the country," he said.

Story said it shows a sense of inequality if an employee is judged based on sexual orientation rather than their conduct at work.

"[To] have that open opportunity as an employee to be judged on the merits of the work you're performing rather than who you are," Story said.

However, despite this law being in effect, the ACLU says there have been instances where people still experience this type of discrimination in Nevada.

"Frequently the state will intercede with the Nevada Equal Rights Commission and contact those employers to say, 'What you're doing is not legal in this state,'" Story said.

Furthermore, the ACLU says there have also been instances where someone lived in Nevada, lost their job, then moved to another state where these laws don't exist.

As of now, the Senate has enough votes to pass it, but House Speaker John Boehner says he would not support this legislation because he says it would cause more lawsuits in the workplace.

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