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FERNDALE – Next Tuesday, May 15, Affirmations will ‘clock in for equality’ and host a town hall meeting aimed at educating the public about the realities of harassment and discrimination faced by LGBT people and those living with HIV. The meeting is part of national campaign that day around the country, organized by Lambda Legal and centered on actions to advance workplace equality.
“We’re bringing in the best in our communities to discuss the workplace inequalities we all face, and ways we can address those inequalities,” said Bashar Makhay, Affirmations’ civic engagement coordinator.
“Few people in Michigan know that it’s legal to fire employees because they are sexual minorities, for example, and fewer still know there’s something they can do about it.”
Lambda reports that workplace fairness is the number one issue for callers to their help desk, with over 1,000 people calling about workplace rights in 2006. Though the LGBT community has made significant legal strides in recent years – and though according to Lambda close to 90 percent of people in the United States think lesbians and gay men should have equal rights in the workplace – today there is still no federal law that expressly forbids sexual orientation or gender identity discrimination in the private sector.
In addition, Michigan is one of 32 states with no statewide law providing express protection against sexual orientation discrimination in the workplace. The trans community fares even worse, and Michigan is one of 42 states that provide no protection against gender identity discrimination. Meanwhile, people with HIV are theoretically protected from discrimination by the Americans with Disabilities Act and similar state laws, yet they still experience workplace discrimination due to confidentiality breaches, unjustified fears about transmission and refusals to provide reasonable accommodations.
Lambda hopes the Clock In for Equality campaign will not only educate but also increase support for efforts to win legal protections for LGBT employees and activate people to fight for their rights. Panelists at the free public forum at Affirmations will include Jay Kaplan, staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan’s LGBT Project; Derek Smiertka, executive director of Michigan Equality; TransGender Michigan Executive Director Rachel Crandall, and Dawn Wolfe, director of communications for the Triangle Foundation.
Co-moderating the event with Bashar Makhay will be Charles Pugh of WJBK-Fox 2.
For more information on the town hall meeting, which begins at 7 p.m. in the center’s community room, visit http://www.goaffirmations.org, or for additional information on Lambda’s Clock In for Equality campaign, go to http://www.lambdalegal.org.
Sign up to Clock In for Equality
Join Lambda Legal, its partners and thousands of people across the country by pledging to do something on May 15 — at work, in your community, with a group or individually. Ideas on the Lambda web site include earing a “Clock In for Equality” button, posting a sign making your work area a safe space for LGBT coworkers and osting a community forum about workplace rights. Check the web site for more ideas, materials and to Clock In for Equality.