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Support from JAN

Traumatic events happen every day. It is simply a question of what happens, to whom, and who feels the effects of that tragedy. The LGBTQ+ community is no stranger to this reality: the arson attack on the UpStairs Lounge in 1973, the assassination of Harvey Milk in 1978, the attack on Matthew Shepherd in 1998, or the shooting at the Pulse Nightclub in 2016, to name only a few. Experiencing traumatic events such as these can cause someone to develop a disability or exacerbate an existing disability.

The possible disabilities and impairments an individual may develop due to trauma or violence is a long list. Some examples include mobility impairments from acute injuries that affect walking, standing, grasping, bending, and reaching; cognitive/mental health conditions that may lead to difficulty tolerating stress, sleep disruptions, depression, anxiety; and internal injuries that cause chronic pain or headaches.

If you have developed a disability after experiencing a traumatic event, be it an event like the ones mentioned above or otherwise, JAN can help you explore possible workplace accommodations and understand your rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). As a starting point, please explore the A to Z of Disabilities and Accommodations section of our website and visit our Individual page. If you have specific questions, do not hesitate to contact us via our toll-free phone, E-mail, or chat. Our services are free, and all information is confidential.

LGBTQ+ Issues, Workplace Discrimination, and the EEOC

As a consultant at JAN, tragedies against the LGBTQ+ community always highlights an important topic in terms of workplace discrimination and employment issues for me — the fact that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), in addition to enforcing the employment provisions of the ADA and Rehabilitation Act, can also help members of the LGBTQ+ community when they are subject to discrimination in the workplace. I have read multiple posts on social media over the years stating that their trauma is heightened by the fact that LGBTQ+ people still do not have employment protections under federal law. These posts refer to things like at-will employment laws (when an employer can terminate an employee at any time for any reason outside of ones specifically prohibited by law) and the fact that no federal law specifically mentions providing protections to the LGBTQ+ community. They state that they can be fired for any reason. But this is not the case!

The EEOC, which is the federal agency that enforces laws relating to employment discrimination, does in fact accept cases when the discrimination is based on sexual orientation or gender identity. They do this, despite the fact that no federal law specifically mentions that they protect these individuals, because the Civil Rights Act of 1964 provides protection against employment discrimination when it is due to reasons relating to sex. In their publication titled "Preventing Employment Discrimination against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual or Transgender Workers," EEOC writes:

“Although Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 does not explicitly include sexual orientation or gender identity, the EEOC and courts have said that sex discrimination includes discrimination based on an applicant or employee’s gender identity or sexual orientation.”

We all need to do what we can in light of the effects of tragedy to help ourselves and others through those hard times. I hope this assists some of you or enables you to help those you love. I also hope that this article helps to honor those that we have lost.