This week, we had three major cases got up against the Supreme Court regarding discrimination in the workplace based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
The three cases and why they are so important for queer rights.
My experiences with discrimination in job applications and in my previous workplace.
What is the most impactful discrimination for minorities.
Why gossip and venting are not useful for us.
Why we want to recruit our aggressors as allies.
The first key question to ask any aggression.
External resources for legal employment support.
Steven Wakabayashi: So it’s finally time again. Hello everyone. My name is Steven Wakabayashi, and you’re listening to Yellow Glitter Mindfulness Through the Eyes and Soul of a Gay Asian. Every episode I share with you what’s on my mind or things that I’m struggling with and how I’m working through it to help you live a more mindful, fabulous life.
So housekeeping this week, new listeners. Welcome, welcome. Really appreciate you. And for all the listeners that have sent in feedback. So appreciated. I read each and every one of your messages. I just really appreciate it and it helps to keep me going and keep me motivated, especially during the times when I am so busy and I can’t seem to muster the time to edit these long scripts.
So thank you. Thank you. Yeah. And, uh, yeah, this is, this is why I make it, this is why I talk about these things because I feel that it matters and it’s so great that it is resonating, and so really appreciated. Okay, so this episode we talk about the three cases that went in front of the Supreme Court last week, why they’re important to L G B T Q, rights and advice on dealing with.
Discrimination in the workplace, and so let’s get right to it. This has been quite a week. We had three major queer cases go up against the Supreme Court this week regarding discrimination in the workplace. Two cases involve sexual orientation discrimination and one involving gender identity discrimination.
The main argument is whether or not sex includes sexual orientation and sexual identity as part of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which bans sex discrimination and employment. Title VII also includes discrimination against race. Color, religion, and national origin as well. Currently, 23 states, including DC, have protections in place for discrimination against sexual orientation and or gender identity.
That leaves us with 27 states here in the US without any protection of any kind for gender identity and sexual orientation. And this ruling is going to have a huge impact for queer people, especially in these states. And let’s break down the three cases that went in front of the Supreme Court. So let’s talk about the case dealing with gender identity First in Michigan, Amy Stevens was fired from her job as director of a funeral home after coming out to her boss as transgender.
In 2013, after she was fired, she took to the lower courts and her boss testified that she was fired because get this, she quote was no longer going to represent himself. As a man and also another quote, he would be a distraction that is not appropriate for grieving families refusing to address. Stevens using feminine pronouns the entire time and outrightly declare that.
Her firing was not because of her merit, but because of her transgender status. The funeral home appealed and argued in part that Congress was not thinking about transgender people when it included sex as part of Title vii, and we have the second case in New York. Donald Zda was fired in 2010 from a skydiving job.
He strapped himself to a woman as part of a. Skydiver job and. Trying to put her at ease. He told her that he was gay and after the skydive, the woman’s boyfriend called the company to complain and Zara’s employer fired him shortly thereafter. He died in an accident in 2014, and the cases continued by his family prior to this case.
Coming to the Supreme Court, both the equal. Employment Opportunity Commission, the E E O C and the Department of Justice under Obama’s time issued a non-binding memo in 2015. That sexual orientation would be covered as part of Title vii. When President Trump came to power, he ordered the Department of Justice to roll back that memo and reverse his.
Decision on Title VII, including sexual orientation. At this time it was led by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and when we take a look at the third case in Georgia, Gerald Bostock was fired from his job as child services coordinator. In Clayton County in 2013, after joining a gay softball league, in a meeting from May, 2013, Bostock was fired under the claim of quote, conduct.
Unbecoming of a county employee, and then later in June, the following month, the county said instead that Bostock had been fired due to Miss Bank County funds because Georgia does not have protections in place for firing based on sexual orientation. It looked towards Title VII and determined that sexual orientation was not included and ruled against his case afterwards.
And why some of these cases are really important. Let’s first talk about the case with Amy Stevens. This is the first time that transgender has ever been in any oral arguments in the Supreme Court and monumental for the recognition and rights for trans folks. The decision of this will cascade into tremendous impact is.
Especially for trans people all over the US and in the case with Gerald Bostock, the lower courts based, their decision on a previous court case from 1976, which declared discharge for homosexuality is not prohibited. By Title vii. So if the Supreme Court does rule in favor of lgbtq plus protection, it will have huge ripple effects, not just to the current population of queer people, but also to prior cases that will ruled against because of the lack of protection.
Title VII included. It should also be noted that all three cases are with white men and women. There are perhaps numerous firings that don’t see the light of day because of racial discrimination, especially for queer people of color. I took a look at the arguments of both sides that happened on October 8th.
You have one side that argues for queer protection and the other that is focused on the vernacular and protection of the term sex. Some justices cite that during 1964, homosexuality was a criminal offense and that the loss created during that time could not have included. Protection for homosexual people.
There was a lot of hypothetical issues that were said on that date that were brought to attention, including this ruling’s impact on potentially bathroom segregation laws, gender laws when you meet with specific genders and certain jobs and athletic teams, whether you can have women join men’s teams. I get it.
This decision is not easy when you consider the impact of it and when you’re trying to be quote unquote fair based on a particular vernacular. And I also want us to be aware that this is the beauty of the United States democracy and its laws. We have these checks and balances. In place meant to protect its citizen.
Sometimes we have to amend or add additional protections because times change, but also we don’t want to be following laws extremely loosely or else we would not be protected to begin with. But the reality is, Especially for trans folks, there is not enough protection out there for queer people in place.
When we talk about protection for trans folks, there really isn’t any setup in place for them. 19 trans people have been fatally shot or killed by extremely violent means. This year alone and in 2018, 26, were murdered violently. And when we look at queer discrimination or just representation in general boards of companies and people in high position, there is a huge deficit of representation by queer people, and especially even more by queer people of color.
This is discrimination. You can clearly see. In broad daylight, the fact that it is still okay to fire someone based on something other than merit, this is completely unreasonable. People just wanna do good work, make money. Live their own version of the American Dream. The fact that we have people judging the basis of the work based on the clothes they wear or who they love, it is extremely immoral.
And so with these three cases going to Supreme Court, I. The result will come out sometime next year in 2020, along with our next presidential election. I am not looking forward to the intense discourse that may come next year, but I. I think it is so needed, especially in the state that we are in today.
In my experience, I have also faced discrimination through harassment, microaggressions in both job applications and in my workplace. So as a part of the work that I’ve done previously, it has been mostly in advertising similar to what you see in Mad Men helping clients with. Their marketing efforts. My work has been with clients raging from startups to many of the top Fortune 500 companies, and just like Mad Men, most of the advertising industry is straight white men, and so are the client teams that I interact with as well.
In a job interview, one of my interviewers suggested that I would do well. Working with fashion clients, inferring because I was a gay man and I have also been in interviews with straight white men who refuse to look at my face during the entire interview. In previous jobs, colleagues and clients have referred to me with the wrong Asian ethnicity, even after correction.
No, I am not Korean for the hundredth time I am. Japanese and Taiwanese, and also I have heard so many times colleagues utter that’s so gay in derogatory ways as well. In the work that I do day after day, I am surrounded by mostly white men and women, though. During my time in San Diego, New York, and San Francisco where I’ve worked, I’ve had Asians working with me, but I’ve never, ever had a gay in the room with me ever.
Isn’t that crazy? I. The most impactful discrimination starts with hiring. If we don’t give opportunities to those who haven’t had it to begin with, we continue to perpetuate the oppressive forces that have been around for generations. And so I. If you are a part of hiring and increasing diversity within your workplace, so much compassion and so much props to you for doing the work that is so needed.
So how do we manage? Discrimination in the workplace. Let me first share with you something that I’ve struggled with for the longest time. I have been trying to figure out how to process this. My first inclination was to rage and blow off steam and my other coworkers or friends outside of work. But little did I know that it would make the situation so much worse.
One, it was typically seeking validation to my feelings as part of ranting to others. This, I can do it myself, and if I feel a certain way, it is valid in itself because I felt it. I don’t need external approval to have feelings, and on top of seeking validation, I was seeking. Creating a tribal enemy to fortify my relationship with others.
You commonly see this with sports teams. In politics, when you bond with another person over your hate of a common enemy, a certain sports team, or over a specific precedent. Relationships built over enemies require more enemies. To continue kindling this relationship. You wonder why those who gossip always gossip about everything and every one, right?
If the foundation of the relationship was the gossip to continue the relationship, the gossip must go on. Gossip rant. This becomes an echo chamber of hate and derails the purpose to begin with, which is taking action on your feelings of discrimination in the first place, making change happen. If you must blow off steam, do it.
In a productive advice seeking setting. Be open to be challenged with other perspectives, but also guided on how to manage it. Avoid gossiping and ranting into an echo chamber and pro tip for you. Be extremely wary of any friends or colleagues that just want to gossip with you about others because honestly, They will also do the same to you behind your back as well.
And so to combat discrimination, let’s work backward from what we ultimately want from others. A change in thinking and a change in behavior. And how do we get others to change their way of thinking and what they do or what they say. With love and compassion. For those of you who are going to say with anger and force, let me ask you, name a time in your adult life that anger force or even nagging has inspired you to change.
Most likely never. It is only when you’re met with compassion and love that you consider change when you were given the benefit of a doubt and when you were loved unconditionally. So to expect others to change it is to meet them with unconditional love, loving who they are, their process and who they can become.
We’re trying to not only create change, but also recruit allies. By meeting people with compassion and openness, we disarm hostility and open up the floor for inquiry and understanding. So now with that precedence, a few tips of advice on how to handle discrimination in the workplace. First, identify whether or not you are capable of addressing the aggressor yourself if you are capable of addressing it yourself.
Identify an environment in which the aggressor would feel the safest to receive feedback. Is it in the moment or is it in private? The worst we can do is to point them out and embarrass them in front of others. Do you remember a time when you were called to answer a question back in grade school you had no idea what to say about or.
Perhaps the class laughed at you. It must have been embarrassing and extremely traumatizing. Don’t perpetuate this, even if you’re in the right. Don’t be a bully. Something I love to do is to first ask for clarification. I love asking, what did you mean by that? Let me say it again. What did you mean by that?
It provides the person a moment to inquire about their words without any judgment from our behalf. When asked in the moment about an insensitive joke or comment like, that’s so gay, usually the person will have a difficult time explaining themselves or. Perhaps they’ll see the mistake themselves and correct themselves.
What did you mean by that? And even after asking that question, and if they don’t see it, please chime in on why the comment didn’t sit right with you. But with compassion and with love and understanding, have a conversation with them. To educate and be educated, and perhaps even we might learn something new.
We all have a bias whether we like it or not. We see the world through our own eyes, and sometimes we might not understand everything and need clarification as well. Seek to first understand the situation before. You become understood and in the end always forgive and let your aggressor go. Second, if you’re not able to handle it yourself, look for external resources first.
Seek the help of your HR department at work. You’ll get internal advice and get help with them on how to deal with a situation or work with them to file an internal report. In more severe cases, you may want to seek the help of outside lawyers as well. All of these people, HR department lawyers, it is their job to help address these types of situations.
Don’t be afraid to consult with them. There are protections in place with HR departments and lawyers that encourage people to come forward about these issues. With that said, I will caveat that HR departments can be good or bad depending on the individual and the company. It is a bit of a conflict of interest at times for these HR departments and individuals.
Generally, they will put the company’s best interests in mind first. Getting outside consultation does have its benefits, but it does have its added costs, but it doesn’t have this conflict of interest that your internal departments may have. So, If you are seeking the help outside of the company first, a good lawyer will follow through and provide you with insights to help you on your situation.
When in doubt, consult multiple accredited lawyers for advice. Just like any huge medical procedure you might get, you want to consult at least two to three lawyers to see if they are a good fit to work with you and do your case second. Half notes of the incident include witnesses, people in the area when it happened, people who may have heard or seen something.
And third, you do not need a smoking gun. Evidence like an email or recording catching the aggressor red-handed to win a trial. A testimony is sufficient evidence. As part of any case, you can find employment lawyers through N e a.org, which stands for National Employment Lawyers Association or ao.org, and I’ll put these links in the show notes.
You can also file independently without a lawyer to the us. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The E E O C, I’m reading this from the website. If you believe that you have been discriminated against work because of your race, color, religion, sex, including pregnancy, gender identity, and sexual orientation, national origin, age 40 or older disability or genetic information, you can file a charge of discrimination.
So regardless of what is happening right now with the Supreme Court of the United States, you can file independently or with a lawyer to E E O C via the website eoc.gov. If you have been discrimination based on your gender identity and sexual orientation. Depending on your state, you have about 180 to 300 days after the last day of employment to file a charge.
So the rule of thumb is, Try not to sit on it, and I understand that discrimination is tough and it is taxing, and it takes a toll on you, but you don’t have to do it alone. Consult employers, HR department, consult lawyers. Go to the E E O C for help. And especially with queer discrimination rights in limbo right now, the best you can do is to know your rights, know your company policies, as well as your state and federal legal rights.
23 states, including DC have. Protection for sexual orientation and or gender identity in place if your employer doesn’t protect you, and for the other 27 states that don’t have that protection in place, that E E O C is a federal agency that will look into this for you. Discrimination of any form is not right and should not be tolerated.
You have a right to work and have the successes you are deserved regardless of your skin color, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or gender identity. As difficult as it may be to navigate discrimination in the workplace, sometimes legal action is necessary and perhaps it might make. A huge impact. As we can see in these three cases.
It might actually help people a whole lot more, especially when you’re going up against the Supreme Court to include protection for queer people all around the United States. So, yeah, that’s it for this week. If you have any feedback, I always love to hear from you. You can get in touch with me at po[email protected] or at my Instagram at Steven Waka Bahi.
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So much love for you and hope your day can be a little bit more mindful. Bye now.