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New DART Policy to Extend Rights to LGBT Employees, Or Will It?

The Dallas Area Rapid Transit authority claims that they're updating their nondiscrimination policy to disallow discrimination against gay and transgender employees. However, some people in Dallas' LGBT community feel that the language of the new policy will not necessarily grant gay employees any new rights.

The Advocate reports that the agency's updated policy reads as follows: "DART is committed to hiring, promoting and retaining the best qualified persons in all positions and, except to the extent permitted by federal and/or Texas law, DART will not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, disability, genetic information, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity or any other characteristic protected by law."

Any Texas employment lawyer can easily point out the flaw with this policy. The phrase "except to the extent permitted by federal and/or Texas law" draws some concern because neither federal law nor Texas law prevents discrimination in hiring and firing based on sexual orientation and gender identity. So the new policy may not be giving gay and transgender employees extended rights after all. Some people with Lambda Legal say that the wording is intentional and is done so that DART can have the image of offering new forms of nondiscrimination protection without actually offering such protection unless the federal or state law changes.

"You'd like to think they're just stupid, but the truth is you have to assume that the people who write these things at least have basic language skills," Ken Upton of Lambda Legal told the Dallas Voice. "Supposedly there's at least one attorney involved, so I have to assume it's intentional."

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