While at the federal level, the Trump Administration is making moves that will prevent protections against workplace discrimination for LGBTQ individuals, Ada County, Idaho has expanded its anti-discrimination policies to specifically protect LGBTQ applicants.
At the end of August, Ada County commissioners approved the broad wording of the policy after it had been in the works for several months. The county’s move mirrors those of about a dozen cities across Idaho — including Boise and Meridian in Ada County — that have passed legislation designed to prevent LGBTQ discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations.
It also comes amid President Trump’s Labor and Justice Departments attempting to undermine efforts to include legal wording that would specifically protect LGBTQ people against workplace discrimination.
Last month, the Labor Department proposed a rule that would allow federal contractor employment discrimination on the basis of religion, while the Justice Department filed a Supreme Court brief, asking the Justices to rule against protecting transgender individuals from workplace discrimination.
The Supreme Court has agreed to hear three cases that involve the question of whether LGBTQ individuals are protected against discrimination by Title VII. These decisions will set the precedent for future suits regarding the question of gender identity and sexuality as protected categories under the law.
At the state level, Idaho lawmakers have been rejecting this inclusive language in its legislation, citing concerns that it would lead to lack of agency for religious groups.
County Commissioner Diana Lachiando (D) spoke to Boise State Public Radio, saying the step was “small” but “important” when it came to allowing employment opportunities for diverse people.
“We know that the world is changing in many different ways and it’s important for us to recognize that great employees come from all kinds of different places,” Lachiando told the radio station.
The county board unanimously decided to adopt the new wording in its hiring protocols and its employee handbook. The news release announcing the decision lists the county’s expanded protected categories.
“The language prohibits discrimination, harassment, and retaliation based on a person’s race, color, sex (including pregnancy), age (40 and older), religion, creed, disability, marital status, national origin, gender, gender identity or expression, genetic information, sexual orientation, veteran or military status, use of a service animal, and any other status protected by federal, state and local law,” it says.
Ada County Commissioner Rick Visser said the new hiring and employment policy will make sure diverse civil servants will better serve the county.
“Every resident of Ada County deserves to have civil servants working on their behalf who can perform their duties in a non-threatening environment,” Visser said in the press release. “This policy allows us to better serve the taxpayers who support the services we provide.”