What Does HERO’s Demise Mean for LGBT Employees in Houston?
If you haven’t already heard, Houston residents have voted to reject HERO. The Houston Equal Rights Ordinance would have afforded protection against workplace discrimination for a variety of people, including but not limited to LGBT employees. The vote came down 61 percent against and 39 percent in favor of the equality ordinance.
What Now for Houston Employees After HERO’s Repeal?Without HERO, discrimination is now legal in city employment and services, public accommodations, housing, city contract, and private employment. The ordinance would have effectively ended workplace discrimination by adding a number of people to the list of protected classes including: military veterans, disabled workers, pregnant women, people of other religions, and more. In total, 15 different classes have now been denied protection from discrimination in the workplace.
Annise Parker, a gay woman who also happens to be the Mayor of Houston, says the results of the vote have “stained Houston’s reputation as a tolerant, welcoming global city.” Many professionals speculate that the rejection of HERO will have more negative impact than its opposition realized.
Many officials believe that the city could see a substantial economic loss as more businesses will likely opt against opening shop in Houston or even some that will close-up and move on. One of the more high-profile consequences is the possibility of losing the rights to host the 2017 Super Bowl in Houston.
There is no federal protection against workplace discrimination for LGBT employees. However, more and more states are passing laws to remedy that. Texas has no state-wide protection, but many larger cities have passed ordinances like HERO. San Antonio and Plano have recently joined other more enlightened cities such as Austin and Dallas.