Columbus - Today at 4:00pm, the Ohio House Committee on Commerce and Labor will hear sponsor Testimony on HB 335 (the Equal Housing and and Employment Act), which would add sexual orientation and gender identity to the Ohio state laws prohibiting discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations.
Representatives Nickie Antonio (D) and Ross McGregor (R) will be testifying as to the importance of this legislation. For at least several years, the vast majority of Ohio registered voters have believed discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations based on sexual orientation or gender identity should be prohibited by state law (74% of respondents to a 2009 Glengariff poll of Ohio voters commissioned by Equality Ohio Education Fund).
When sexual orientation and gender identity are included in non-discrimination laws, companies are more proactive at preventing and responding to discrimination claims. Workplace discrimination against employees based on race, gender or sexual orientation costs businesses an estimated $64 billion annually, a recent report from the Center For American Progress finds. Businesses incur costs in a variety of ways, including through the turnover of about 2 million employees who leave their jobs due to discrimination. More than 40 percent of gay employees reported facing harassment and discrimination at work, according to a recent survey by the Gay and Lesbian Task Force.Non-discrimination policies have been adopted by many major corporations, including those in Ohio, because companies recognize that adopting non-discrimination policies that include sexual orientation and gender identity allow them to attract, retain, and compete with companies based in other states.
21 of the 50 states and the District of Columbia currently protect people from discrimination based on their sexual orientation or gender identity, putting Ohio and its businesses at a competitive disadvantage for recruiting and hiring the best and brightest professional talent. The businesses of the future require innovation and creativity, and those companies want to locate where the laws are protective of all people.
“The vast majority of Ohioans are fair-minded people who understand that discrimination is wrong,” says Ed Mullen, Executive Director of Equality Ohio. “If Ohio is going to retain and attract young workers and the businesses of the future, it is important that our state laws reflect these values. If Ohio is truly open for business, it should be open for everyone.”