Next phase of Houston’s equal rights law set

As of June 27, more employers will be covered by the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO). The ordinance adds to the protected classes covered under federal and state civil rights laws.

HERO took effect on June 27, 2014, covering employers with 50 or more employees. On June 27, 2015, the law will cover employers with 25 or more employees. On the next anniversary of the law, it will cover employers with 15 or more employees.

HERO protects employees from discrimination based on sex, race, color, ethnicity, national origin, age, familial status, marital status, military status, religion, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, genetic information, and pregnancy. Sexual orientation protection extends to both real and perceived sexual orientation.

The ordinance states that complaints that are filed with the city and are within the bailiwick of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)  or the Texas Workforce Commission will be referred to those agencies, and the city will terminate its investigation. Claims not covered by federal or state law—sexual orientation, gender identity, familial status, and marital status—fall within the bailiwick of HERO.