Achieving LGBT Equality Through Litigation, Legislation, Policy, and Public Education

Case Summary & History

Employment

Case: Howe v. Haslam

STATUS: Loss, Tennessee

As outrageous as it is, today, people in many states can be fired from their jobs or denied services simply because they are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. Without a federal law protecting LGBT people from workplace discrimination, it is essential that cities, counties, and towns have the power to pass anti-discrimination laws.

Nashville passed such a law in 2011, only to have state lawmakers, working with a virulently anti-LGBT group, take it away. In June 2011, NCLR filed a lawsuit challenging this outrageous abuse of the legislative process in Tennessee. Anti-LGBT politicians and organizations drafted House Bill 600 specifically to harm LGBT people by making it illegal to enact local laws protecting LGBT people. To add insult to injury, the new law also stripped transgender Tennesseans of any protection under the state’s existing sex discrimination statutes.

On July 30, 2013, a state trial court in Nashville dismissed the lawsuit on the ground that the plaintiffs lacked standing to challenge the law.  On November 4, 2014, the Tennessee Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s decision in part and returned the case to the trial court to determine whether House Bill 600 affects the power of local school districts to enact policies protecting LGBT students against discrimination and harassment.

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