In an era where few things are deemed as laudable as coming out as gay, Tim Cook (Apple CEO) has continued the trend by officially announcing his homosexual orientation. Seeing himself as an influential leader, he conveyed the responsibility he feels to fight for so-called equality of gays. To support his claim of inequality of gays, Cook proclaimed that “there are laws on the books in a majority of states that allow employers to fire people based solely on their sexual orientation.” Almost instantly, the media flooded the web with articles like, “The 29 States Where You Can Still Be Fired for Being Gay” – complete with colorful maps to pinpoint the bigots. Horrible, isn’t it? States that actually allow you to fire people because they are gay! But like many liberal chants, the statement is incredibly misleading and the truth isn’t quite as simple.
At surface level, Cook’s statement leads one to believe that laws have bene passed that specifically give the right to fire homosexuals. The more accurate way to state the law is that 29 states do not have laws protecting the status of gays — which isn’t quite the same (and not as hostile) as laws that specifically allow employers to fire their employees for being gay. This is an important distinction because it means that just because you aren’t allowed to fire for being gay, doesn’t mean that you can be fired solely for being gay. Written another way, lack of protection against firing gays is not a license to fire gays. You need a job-related reason to fire someone, regardless of their sexual orientation.
The reality is that even in at-will states, where you can supposedly be fired for any reason, you still need a compelling case to protect yourself against lawsuits and wrongful termination claims. And if you simply wrote down that a person is gay that probably wouldn’t be sufficient. In other words, there is no law that would give you the unequivocal right to fire solely because a person is gay — which is exactly what Tim Cook and the band of media wants you to think.