Much of the news concerning views on sexual orientation in the workplace is positive these days, as efforts to be more inclusive on many fronts includes those individuals who counts themselves among the gay and lesbian population. But, just as with every effort to curb employment discrimination, there are always going to be bumps in the road, and that was the case recently for the Colorado State Patrol.
According to reports, a patrol captain, who sought to be re-hired by the Colorado State Patrol after leaving for a short period of time in an effort to become a helicopter pilot, was recently awarded $768,000 due to what has been labeled "anti-gay" discrimination. It appears that the claim is based on the employer giving the former employee a polygraph examination - fairly common among police departments throughout the country. However, the problem with this polygraph examination was that the person administering the test apparently asked a question which led the employee to reveal that he was gay. That was a direct violation of Colorado State Patrol policy which prohibits questions regarding an employee or potential employee's sexual orientation.
The ruling came from an administrative law judge, and there were no initial indications as to whether or not the CSP will appeal the ruling. The $768,000 was meant to address lost back pay, including interest, as well as the continuing harm the former employee will experience as a result of the CSP's discriminatory actions.
As society changes, employers and employees alike must adapt to social norms. The current sentiment in this country, and in Colorado and a handful of other states in particular, is for a more open and inclusive acceptance of members of the gay and lesbian population. Laws are being updated throughout the country to reflect this rapid change in social opinion, and employers who discriminate based on sexual orientation will begin to pay the price.
Source: LGBTQNATION, "Colorado State Patrol must pay $768,000 in anti-gay discrimination complaint," Aug. 19, 2013