JONESBORO, Ark. (KAIT) - After a push locally in 2015 and just four months ago to protect city workers through a proposed “Fair Employment” resolution, the Supreme Court of the United States voted Monday that jobs cannot discriminate against gay or transgender people in the workplace.
“I’m incredibly glad that this is settled law now. The highest court in the land has recognized the rights of LGBT+ individuals in the workplace," supporter of the LGBTQIA+ community, Ryan Carter said.
Carter started the conversation of pushing for discrimination protection of the LGBTQIA+ community years ago. Now, with a 6-3 vote banning job discrimination against sexual orientation or gender identity, they are protected by federal law.
“I think this will go a long measure to guarantee that they are treated fairly in the workplace and they won’t be afraid to be who they are on the clock," Carter said.
And even for activist Yesenia Hernandez Lovo, she feels some steps have been taken in the right direction.
“With all of these protests going on and everything going on with the black lives matter movement, people do not recognize that the LGBTQIA+ issues are also black issues. For us, it’s a huge relief that we are able to exist," Hernandez said.
This all coming after they both worked to change the City of Jonesboro’s employee handbook for extra protection.
Region 8 News reached out to the City of Jonesboro to ask if the city’s policies will reflect Monday’s SCOTUS ruling in the city’s handbook.
Jonesboro Communication Director Bill Campbell responded with the following:
“The Supreme Court’s interpretation is that the word “sex” applies to everyone. This validates that the City’s policy covers those classes automatically. That was our position prior to this ruling and it hasn’t changed.”
When asked about the verbiage of the policy directly, Campbell responded:
“This year’s handbook is in the printing process and has been edited to eliminated all the titles of protected classes, simply for practical purposes because new ones are added frequently. What this does is eliminate the need for a person to choose a designation. Essentially, the fact that you are human makes you covered, and that remains in compliance of Title VII.”
“I am very frustrated with that statement, “everybody’s covered” that’s the same thing we are fighting with the black lives matter movement. There are groups of people who keep saying we understand yes all people are included, yes all lives matter but we haven’t been treated this way," Hernandez said. “The reason we are very specific with wording of protections is so that we can identify which are the people in our community are the most marginalized, that’s why it’s very important to clarify what sex means. “
Both said they do not agree with the city’s look on the ruling and they are demanding more when it comes to the wording of protections so that those who are the most marginalized are protected, adding that clarifying what “sex” means is important.
“Well, I think the bottom line is that the city is committed to doing the very bare-minimum for civil rights in this city," Carter said. "They do not want to touch the issue. They don’t want to be seen supporting LGBTQ rights or I guess basic human decency and I think it’s shameful how they have conducted their selves.”