American Airlines, IBM, Others Come Out Against Texas Bills That Could Open Door for anti-LGBT Discrimination

Big businesses including American Airlines, IBM, Celanese and SXSW are making their voice heard when it comes to preserving LGBT non-discrimination ordinances they believe could be nullified by bills making their way through the Texas legislature this week.The four bills – Senate Bills 2485-2488 – would prevent municipalities from requiring private businesses to provide paid sick leave and other benefits to their employees.The bills authored by Brandon Creighton, R-Conroe, are effectively a split-up version of his previous SB 15 which also came under fire for not including enough explicit protection for LGBT workers. Cities, workers and LGBT groups all criticized the bill, comparing it to the 2017 legislature's infamous "bathroom bill."At the time, a coalition of big businesses including Facebook, Amazon and Google also penned a letter stating SB 15 would harm the state economy and disrupt their business in Texas. An early version of SB 15 contained a line explicitly stating the legislation would not overrule local NDOs. The language was subsequently taken out by Creighton who claimed it muddied the bill.Now, IBM, Celanese SXSW and other businesses are holding a news conference Tuesday morning asking the Texas House to put NDOs back into the new bills which have been approved in the Senate."Senator Creighton's new bills are 'single shot' approaches to ensure Texas small businesses determine the benefits, the schedule, and the sick leave policies they offer their employees," communications director Erin Wilson told The Dallas Morning News at the time the bills were introduced.IBM, Celanese and the others hosting the news conference aren't the only large companies speaking out, however.In an internal email obtained by The Dallas Morning News, American Airlines told its flight attendant union it was against the proposed bills as they are currently written. A spokesperson for the airline confirmed the accuracy of the email denouncing the bill and saying that it reflects the company's views.The email details that the company has received legal opinions advising that the legislation could override local non-discrimination ordinances (NDOs)."We... have made the decision that we cannot support those bills in their current form," the email states, "We stand with the LGBTQ community and other business leaders in calling for the bills to be amended to make clear the proposed legislation will not override NDOs."The bills are set to be debated in a House committee on Wednesday May 1.Reporter Lauren McGaughey contributed to this report.  Continue reading...

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