Kenneth D. Upton, Jr.
Supervising Senior Staff Attorney
Four years ago, a young man who worked for a neighboring Texas county government was fired because one of the county commissioners learned he is a gay man. As frequently happens, reporters from various news media outlets called me for a comment on the firing. Without exception, at some point in the conversations, each one made the comment that they knew there were no employment protections for discrimination against lesbians and gay men in Texas. And each time, I corrected them by saying, "That's not true. Why do you say that?"
Since that time I have looked for a case that can serve to educate the community about an important point of employment law that frequently goes unnoticed: Public employers (federal and state governments, counties and cities, public schools and hospitals) do not get to play by the same rules as private employers. The U.S. Constitution holds them to a higher standard when it comes to treating their employees fairly.
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