EL DORADO, Ark. (06/15/20) — The United States Supreme Court has ruled against discrimination in the workplace for LGBTQ workers thus protecting their civil rights.
Prior to the federal ruling, Arkansas was among many states that lacked law protecting the LGBTQ community. Because it wasn’t a state law, cities couldn’t pass ordinances expanding protections.
According to Act 137 of 2015, it prohibits a county, municipality, or other political subdivision of the state from adopting or enforcing an ordinance, resolution, rule, or policy that creates a protected classification or prohibits discrimination on a basis not contained in state law.
“This is a huge momentous decision by the Supreme Court,” Bradley Philpott said.
LGBTQ members can now work without the fear of being fired because of their sexual orientation and gender identity. Something Philpott knows all too well.
“I’ve been skipped over for promotions for management positions,” he said.
There are many stereotypes and prejudices against heterosexuals and transgenders. Philpott only wishes people would treat him and others like humans because they also have a right to work.
Originally from Norwest Arkansas, Philpott had a difficult time publicizing his sexuality because of fear from his family members and friends.
“There was internalized homophobia from the time I was born,” he said. “I married out of fear to a woman because I didn’t want to be lynched. Each LGBTQ person has been harassed because of our sexual orientation.”
It was even harder for him to find a job for awhile until he was hired at Oddities, Novelties and more in El Dorado.
Philpott believes he’s fully accepted for who he is. Store manager, Julie Washchka, only wants the job environment to be inclusive because that’s how she was raised and that’s what her late daughter would have wanted.
“We accept everyone and love everyone,” Washchka said. “He is wonderful with our website. We’ve always wanted a website and we’re finally getting one now. He’s done the whole thing on his own.”
That’s why Philpott and Washchka hopes employers will embrace their workers no matter how they identify or what they look like. They bring value to the workplace just like anyone else.
“I would say to employers at this time who are struggling with this decision is just to go within your heart of hearts and root out that prejudice,” he said.
The ruling may have taken awhile but Philpott said it’s a step in the right direction. However, there’s still a long way to go until everyone is equal.