Arizona AG Will Accept Complaints From LGBTQ Employees

Published: Sunday, June 21, 2020 - 9:31pm
Updated: Tuesday, June 23, 2020 - 10:17am
Howard Fischer/Capitol Media Services
Mark Brnovich

In a new court filing, Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich declared that his administration will enforce the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to protect individuals from workplace discrimination based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.

The Civil Rights Division of the Attorney General’s Office had previously declined to provide an Arizona woman with a “right to sue” letter. The woman claimed that her employer discriminated against her “on the basis of gender identity and/or sexual orientation,” according to the filing.

The woman later sought a judgment declaring that the definition of “sex” in the Arizona Civil Rights Act “include sexual orientation, sex stereotyping, transgender status, and gender identity and expression.”

That request is now moot given the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling, attorneys for Brnovich argued.

“In light of [the Supreme Court’s decision], the Division will now accept and review cases alleging employment discrimination because of sexual orientation or transgender status,” the filing states.

Katie Conner, a spokeswoman for Brnovich, said the motion is binding — that means Brnovich’s administration will have to investigate claims of discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity for as long as he’s in office.

Only a change in state law, adopted by the Arizona Legislature and signed by the governor, could change that, Conner said.

The Civil Rights Division was already planning to adjust how it handles workplace discrimination complaints following the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling, Conner said, but a filing deadline in the case presented an opportunity to stake out its new position.

“Our office will now immediately begin accepting cases alleging employment discrimination because of sexual orientation or transgender status,” she said. “Our office's job is to enforce the law as it is.”

Conner said that’ll be beneficial for anyone filing a complaint. 

Ryan Anderson, Brnovich’s spokesman, says there's a good reason for Arizona to follow the U.S. Supreme Court precedent.

“What I think this does is it avoids the state from potentially incurring unnecessary litigation costs in the future. And, legally, it is consistent with what the Supreme Court decided," said Anderson.

The Attorney General’s Office had been directing complainants to the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. But those investigations can take years. Conner said the Civil Rights Division takes an average of 300 days to review complaints.

KJZZ's Jill Ryan contributed to this report.

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