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Ohio Businesses Commit To Support Equality For LGBT Employees

Columbus skyline at dusk

A group of Ohio businesses is working together to promote nondiscrimination against LGBTQ employees. More than 200 businesses have signed on, including a number in Central Ohio.

Ohio law says it’s illegal for businesses to fire employees based on things like race, religion, sex, or disability status "without just cause." But it is technically legal to fire someone for being gay or transgender.

Some cities, like Akron and Lakewood, have passed ordinances extending protected status to LGBT people. But the nonpartisan group Ohio Business Competes is asking businesses themselves to commit to nondiscrimination in the workplace.

“If we apply a cookie cutter approach that says, ‘You identify as X therefore we don’t have room for you,’ I actually feel as though that’s detrimental to the discussion and dialogue and the solutions we’re trying to build," says Jason Rudman, an executive vice president at KeyBank who identifies as gay.

Businesses that join the coalitionalso commit to "achieving nondiscrimination policies at the state level."

Rudman says enforcing diversity in the workplace is good for business.

“No Ohioans’ fundamental rights should be determined by what city or what county they live in,” said JoDee Winterhof of the Human Rights Campaignin a statement.

Among the Central Ohio businesses that have signed on to the coalition are Abercrombie & Fitch, Bob Evans, OhioHealth, Donatos and AT&T.