Although numerous advances in equal rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people have been made in recent years, there are still many states where LGBT people can be discriminated against in the workplace because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. West Virginia is one of those states.
Advocates for LGBT rights are concerned that things are only going to get worse. The Human Rights Campaign has called West Virginia a "hot spot for anti-LGBTQ legislation in 2017."
It remains to be seen what changes will be made at the federal level. LGBT advocates were concerned that just hours after the Trump administration took over, LGBTQ content disappeared from federal websites.
Back in 2014, President Obama signed an executive order that prohibits LGBT discrimination by federal contractors. When asked if President Trump would overturn that order, his press secretary said, "I don't know on that one." However, as one official with the HRC notes, Trump has talked about "repealing all of Barack Obama's executive orders" as well as reducing government regulations.
That executive order currently provides non-discrimination protection to some 28 million LGBT employees, according to an attorney for UCLA School of Law's Williams Institute. Eleven million of those workers live in states where they would not otherwise have that protection.
Those fighting for non-discrimination in the workplace in West Virginia will have to focus both on what our state legislators are doing and what happens in the White House and Congress. As the HRC official says, "Whatever happens to the EO will provide an early and important window into how these congressional fights over LGBT issues are going to go."
Even though West Virginia doesn't have the LGBT workplace protections that some other states have, if you believe you've been discriminated against or lost your job because of your sexual orientation or gender identity, it may still be worthwhile to determine what your legal options are.
Source: NBC News, "Future Uncertain for LGBTQ Employment Protections," Julie Moreau, Ph.D, Jan. 27, 2017