This week’s Supreme Court ruling prohibiting workers discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity was a landmark decision, but there’s a big loophole. Although it extends employment discrimination protections to the LGBTQ community in all 50 states, it does not apply to small businesses with fewer than 15 employees.
According to Al Jazeera, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that about 17 percent of the workforce is employed by companies with fewer than 19 employers, meaning a significant segment of the population — as many as one in six Americans — is not protected against discrimination. Although some states, like Califorrnia, have laws protecting employees of small businesses against discrimination, in more conservative states the loophole could be easily exploited.
Moe Vela, who was a senior advisor on LGBT affairs to former Vice President Joe Biden, said, “I don’t know of any decent excuse or rationale for having let that sit on the books. There’s always been a special kind of place for small businesses in the legislative process, but I don’t understand how that protective spirit can translate in any way to allowing them to discriminate against employees based on who they love or what gender they identify with.”