Pavlicek presents program covering employment issues in the LGBT community

COLUMBIA, SOUTH CAROLINA – Burnette Shutt & McDaniel attorney Jax Pavlicek recently spoke to the South Carolina Gay and Lesbian Business Guild on LGBT employment issues.

The Guild, a 23-year-old not-for-profit organization, was formed to encourage business development and networking in the LGBT community. The group holds monthly informational meetings as well as regular educational events. Pavlicek’s presentation was part of the January meeting.

Her program addressed a range of employment topics from national, state, and local perspectives. She reminded those in attendance that currently, South Carolina law offers no explicit protections from workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identification. Other states have much stronger protections, prohibiting discrimination against any employee, public or private, based on sexual orientation or gender identification.

On the federal level, however, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission now accepts complaints of discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identification, categorizing the complaints under Title VII prohibition against sex discrimination. So far, many federal courts have agreed with the EEOC’s position.

Locally, the City of Columbia and Richland County are ahead of the rest of the state. These local governments have protected their employees from discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity since 2011.

Pavlicek told the business owners that they can help protect themselves legally by creating atmospheres of inclusion at their companies and by documenting issues with all employees. It is important to create policies and handbooks and keep them up to date, she continued, because this is an evolving area of the law.

She encouraged both employees and employers to consult lawyers quickly when problems arise because issues often can be resolved short of litigation. “Attorneys do a lot more than file lawsuits,” she said.

Pavlicek also updated the Guild on emerging national and state trends, including a number of anti-LGBT bills pending before the South Carolina General Assembly.

Pavlicek focuses her practice on litigation and appellate work, including employment,  consumer, intellectual property, and domestic relations cases. She’s also earned a CIPP designation from the International Association of Privacy Professionals, and she assists business and individuals with privacy, data protection and information security issues.