House adopts trio of resolutions on gender, family and sexual orientation

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The ABA House of Delegates on Monday during the ABA Annual Meeting in Chicago. Courtesy ABA Media Relations.

Three resolutions on issues related to gender, family and sexual orientation, all sponsored by the Section of Civil Rights and Social Justice, easily passed the ABA House of Delegates on Monday.

Section delegate Estelle H. Rogers of Washington, D.C., introduced Resolution 104C, supporting an interpretation of the Affordable Care Act that would include discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in the definition of sex discrimination.

Rogers said this is consistent with past ABA policy and court decisions and interpretations from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The ABA has issued amicus briefs consistent with this position in recent years, she noted. However, she said, observers expect the current presidential administration to issue guidance narrowing those interpretations.

“The statute itself talks about sex discrimination but has an interpretive regulation that is broad and includes categories in our resolution. We want it to stay that way,” she said.

The measure passed without audible opposition.

Also passing without trouble was Resolution 104D, calling on jurisdictions to pass job-guaranteed paid sick days and job-guaranteed family and medical leave laws. Rogers, again moving the resolution, said this is a trend among states and localities, which are making laws to ensure pay where the federal Family and Medical Leave Act provides only unpaid leave.

“Paid sick days are not as universal as I thought before I looked into this,” she said. “There are plenty of employment settings where they are not available, and we believe the ABA should stand behind this [proposal] as well.”

Mark Schickman, of counsel at Freeland Cooper & Foreman in San Francisco and chair of the Commission on Domestic & Sexual Violence, moved Resolution 104E. The resolution calls on jurisdictions to adopt rules preventing and addressing gender-based workplace violence, including sexual harassment, pregnancy discrimination, discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, and discrimination on the basis of domestic violence victimhood. It also asks employers to adopt robust policies against workplace gender violence.

Schickman noted this would be consistent with years of ABA policy.

“Many employers already have these protections. Many jurisdictions already provide these protections,” he said. “But many do not, and therefore, this resolution calls on the ABA to call on the jurisdictions and employers to not only have policies but proper and effective protections.”

It passed without audible opposition.

Also proposed by the Section of Civil Rights and Social Justice was Resolution 104B, on discrimination in auto lending. However, it was withdrawn for further consultation with the Business Law Section.

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