Texas is one of the largest states in the USA, and so it goes without saying that it is the home of many, many employees. In fact, 50 Fortune 500 companies are headquartered in Texas. Texas has also featured the most prominent example of an alarming nationwide trend – anti-LGBTQ legislation. Across the country, states are considering some sort of legislation intended to signal opposition to LGBTQ issues and to stop transgender individuals from seeking medical care. Many families in these states are frightened, confused, and wondering what this means for their futures and how it will affect their livelihoods. The negative impact that these laws will have on families is evidenced by the chorus of corporate voices asking politicians to stop passing them. The workplace effects of anti-LGBTQ laws are a real and pressing concern facing employees and employers alike.
Most upsettingly, one Texas law (currently blocked by a temporary restraining order from a federal judge) allows the state’s Department of Family and Protective Services to investigate parents for child abuse if their children receive gender-affirming care. Major medical associations have stated that this care is clinically appropriate for children and adults dealing with gender dysphoria. A recently filed lawsuit outlined one devastating consequence from this law. A transgender teen attempted suicide following the passage and news coverage of the legislation, and while being treated, it was discovered that he was undergoing hormone therapy for his gender dysphoria. As a result, a child abuse investigation was opened into his family within the week.
Clearly, these laws are affecting families and employees in a serious way. Employers are key stakeholders in state policy decisions, and they can leverage their sway on behalf of their employees. More than 60 major businesses advocated against the most recent Texas laws. In an open letter published in the Dallas Morning News, companies like Apple, Salesforce, Capital One, Creative Artists Agency, Meta, PayPal, and more argued that not only are discriminatory laws like this “just wrong”, they also have “an impact on our employees, our customers, their families, and our work.”
In North Carolina, one of the states The Noble Law is proud to serve, there is a recent example of the way corporate leverage can be utilized to thwart anti-LGBTQ legislation. After the North Carolina legislature passed HB2 in a 2016 special session (known as the “bathroom bill”), a varied group of economic forces pushed for change. The NBA moved the 2017 All-Star Game out of Charlotte due to the law, and the NCAA refused to hold championships and NCAA tournament basketball games in the state. Companies like PayPal and Deutsche Bank halted planned expansions into North Carolina.
These laws will clearly affect employees and their families. They are also going to have a real impact on companies, workplaces, and workforces. Employers will need to consider how they want to protect their employees and their families. While political pressure is certainly one tool in the toolbox, rethinking benefits and strategy to protect employees on an individual and family level is another way organizations can protect their employees and defend their individual rights.
For example, in Florida, where the bill colloquially known as “Don’t Say Gay” was signed into law at the end of March 2022, the US Air Force announced they will provide support to families hurt by these types of laws, including by reassigning Air Force members to a state where their family members will be safer. They have also committed to providing Airmen/Guardians with medical, legal, and other relevant resources needed to support them or their families. The largest Air Force base in the world is Eglin Air Force Base, located in the panhandle of Florida.
When companies and organizations demonstrate their commitment to their employees, and their willingness to back that commitment up vocally and financially, they build a workforce that feels safe and respected. It is our opinion and contention that these workforces are more stable, more productive, and more effective. With that in mind, employers should absolutely be considering the workplace effects of anti-LGBTQ laws.