Equality Illinois honors law firms for LGBTQ inclusivity

CHICAGO – Equality Illinois, the state’s LGBTQ civil rights organization, is recognizing 51 law firms in Illinois, a 25 percent increase from last year, for leading the way in 2017 in providing a welcoming and fair work environment for LGBTQ employees and for supporting the LGBTQ community.

The recognition results from the annual Equality Illinois Law Firm Survey, which found that more law firms are willing to create affirming work spaces for their own employees, engage the LGBTQ community and demand that the vendors and contractors with whom they work show the same respect.

“As the surveys were sent out earlier this summer, we expressed our appreciation to the law firms that are regular participants over the years, but we also focused on those that hadn’t previously replied, asking them to demonstrate their commitment to LGBTQ equality. We couldn’t be more pleased that a total of 51 firms, compared to 40 last year, rose to the challenge,” said Brian C. Johnson, CEO of Equality Illinois.

“As civic leaders and protectors of our legal and civil rights, these firms lead other businesses to support their LGBTQ workers and job candidates and showcase how to be good corporate citizens,” Johnson said.

The law firms are being honored Tuesday (Aug. 1) at the 2017 Raising the Bar breakfast, which will feature remarks by Greg Nevins, Director of Lambda Legal’s Employment Fairness Project and an attorney defending LGBTQ workers in major employment discrimination cases, at least one of which is headed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Among other cases, Nevins successfully argued in Chicago before the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals on behalf of fired lesbian teacher Kimberly Hively of Indiana. The court ruled in April her termination was unlawful, becoming the first federal appeals court to find sexual-orientation discrimination is sex discrimination under the U.S. Civil Rights Act.

Another employment discrimination case, however, is being appealed to the Supreme Court after the U.S. 11th Court of Appeals in Atlanta ruled against George hospital worker Jameka Evans, who was fired because she is lesbian. “We’re set up to file … before the Supreme Court and ask them to resolve this once and for all and say on a national level that you cannot fire people under federal law for being lesbian, gay or bisexual,” Nevins said.

“Greg Nevins and his team at Lambda Legal have been advancing workplace equality through fighting in the nation’s courtrooms, and it is appropriate that this event honoring Illinois lawyers hears about this battle from someone on the front lines,” Johnson said.

via press release