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MLB strengthens policy against sexual orientation harassment

Missouri fans of Major League Baseball may be interested to note that MLB's new harassment and discrimination policy contains stronger rules against sexual orientation harassment and discrimination. The new policy requires the league to create a workplace code of conduct applicable to all players in both the major and minor leagues together with training sessions and a central complaint system. The policy was drafted with the help of the players' union and New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.

Schneiderman also helped the National Football League strengthen its policies in an agreement reached earlier this year. This agreement was in response to NFL prospects expressing concerns over the types of questions asked within the evaluation and hiring system. Such concerns, as well as the announcement in April that veteran basketball player Jason Collins is gay, prompted investigations into the sexual harassment and discrimination policies of other sports.

Discrimination based on sexual orientation entails treating someone differently or harassing someone based on a real or perceived sexual orientation. This type of discrimination is not specifically prohibited under federal law for private employers; federal employees, however, are protected from this type of discrimination. Many states have laws that prohibit sexual orientation discrimination in both the public and private sector. Missouri is not included in that list and only protects public employees from such discrimination. Without state or federal protection, employees are left to look to employers like MLB to instill their own policies against sexual orientation discrimination and harassment.

If an employee believes he or she has been discriminated against, there may be other laws and general legal theories under which an employer or co-worker may be sued. An employment law attorney may be able to help guide an affected employee towards possible legal avenues for redress.

Source: ESPN, "MLB agrees to sex harassment policy", July 15, 2013

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