HBA-JLV H.B. 668 77(R) BILL ANALYSIS Office of House Bill AnalysisH.B. 668 By: Maxey State Affairs 2/7/2001 Introduced BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE Federal law provides basic legal protection against employment discrimination on the basis of race, gender, religion, national origin, or disability but not sexual orientation. Many states in the United States have adopted statewide nondiscrimination laws, but Texas law does not prohibit employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. House Bill 668 prohibits employment discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity and prohibits giving preferential treatment based on sexual orientation or gender identity. RULEMAKING AUTHORITY It is the opinion of the Office of House Bill Analysis that rulemaking authority is expressly delegated to the Commission on Human Rights in SECTION 1 (Sections 23.003 and 23.004, Labor Code) of this bill. ANALYSIS House Bill 668 amends the Labor Code to create the Texas Employment Nondiscrimination Act to prohibit employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. An employer, employment agency, labor organization, joint labor-management committee, or another person (covered entity) is prohibited from subjecting an individual to different standards or treatment on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, discriminating against an individual based on the sexual orientation or gender identity with whom the employee is believed to associate with, or otherwise discriminating against an individual on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. A covered entity is also prohibited from discriminating against an individual because the individual: _opposes any prohibited act or practice; _makes or files a charge; or _assists, testifies, or participates in any manner in an investigation, proceeding, or hearing conducted relating to employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Additionally, the bill prohibits a covered entity from coercing, intimidating, threatening, or interfering with an individual in the exercise, enjoyment, encouragement, or assistance of the rights granted or protected by the bill. A covered entity is further prohibited from adopting or implementing a quota on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity or giving preferential treatment to an individual on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. The bill requires a covered entity to post notices to inform employees, applicants for employment, and members of the covered entity of the applicable provisions of the bill. H.B. 668 provides that the fact that a particular employment practice has a disparate impact, as it relates to federal law regarding unlawful unemployment practices, on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity does not establish a prima facie violation. H.B. 668 also provides that the state or a political subdivision of this state is liable for violations and sovereign immunity is waived. The bill does not apply to the provision of employee benefits to an individual for the benefit of the individual's partner. The bill also exempts most religious organizations, but includes those religious organizations operating for profit. The bill does not modify current law regarding special rights or preferences in employment for a veteran of the armed forces of the United States. The prevailing party of a civil action brought under these provisions is entitled to compensation of attorney's fees. The bill authorizes the Commission on Human Rights (commission) to adopt rules necessary to implement this bill. The bill also authorizes the commission to administer and enforce the provisions in this bill. EFFECTIVE DATE September 1, 2001.