Here are my remarks in full:
My name is Mary Griggs. I am a Human Resources professional with over 25 years of experience in retail, corporate and non-profit personnel management. I own my own organizational development consulting firm which has been in business since 2001.
I also serve on the Board of the Forum For Equality, a statewide LGBT rights organization. We work to achieve full equality for the LGBT community through education, outreach, and constructive participation in the political process.
I’m asking for your support of House Bill 85. The Louisiana Fair Employment Act would amend state protections and add safeguards from discrimination in public employment based on sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression.
We believe that qualified, hard-working employees should be recruited and retained based on their skills, qualifications, and capacity to contribute. Employment evaluations should not be based on sexual orientation or gender identity but on work performance.
At a time when Louisiana is facing budget shortfalls, we cannot afford bad business practices that cause inefficient use of taxpayer dollars. When government employers discriminate, they have a harder time recruiting the best workers; they suffer from reduced workplace productivity and increased turn over; and they often expose themselves to costly litigation. Discrimination simply does not make financial sense for governments or for taxpayers like me, who ultimately end up paying the costs associated with workplace discrimination in the public sector.
Tax dollars should never be used to finance discrimination. This is true for discrimination based on other characteristics that are completely irrelevant to job performance, including race, ethnicity, sex, national origin, religion, disability, and, yes, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression.
Some of Louisiana’s largest employers, including Entergy, Shaw Group, and Superior Energy Services, ensure that their workers have protections against unfair treatment by having LGBT inclusive employment non-discrimination policies. Even with the recent reductions in force, the State of Louisiana is the largest single employer in the state. Given the size of the labor force working for the state government (estimated between 54,000 and 80,000), as state lawmakers, you have a responsibility to institute commonsense policies like House Bill 85.
We believe that all state employees should be treated fairly and equally by the laws of our state. There is precedent in Louisiana for these protections. In 1992, Gov. Edwin Edwards issued an executive order prohibiting employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and in 2004 Gov. Kathleen Blanco issued a similar executive order. At neither time did our state become a “target-rich environment for lawsuits” as claimed by the Louisiana Family Forum.
HB 85 is necessary because Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender people face serious discrimination in employment, including being fired from their job, being denied promotions and experiencing harassment. In our Louisiana Public Employee Survey, we found that 65% of state employees had seen or heard discriminatory or biased behavior toward an LGBT employee and 59% had heard a supervisor make a negative comment or express bias against LGBT people.
All hard-working people in our state should have the chance to earn a living and provide for themselves and their families. Nobody should have to live in fear that they can be legally fired for reasons that have nothing to do with their job performance.
We went to the Capital today with a number of partners and allies to advocate for the Louisiana Fair Employment Act. House Bill 85 would amend state protections and add safeguards from discrimination in public employment based on sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression.
Forum For Equality, Louisiana Trans Advocates and Louisiana Progress all had representatives speak eloquently on the need for non-discrimination protections in public employment. AFL-CIO, AARP, EQLA and Louisiana ACLU were also there in support of the measure.
Representative Austin Badon, the bill’s sponsor, spoke about how all hard-working employees should have the chance to earn a living and provide for themselves and their families. That no one should live in fear that they can be fired for reasons that have nothing to do with their job performance nor should our state risk losing the best and brightest to other states that value diversity.
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