For nearly a decade, Westmoreland County Community College, which is located outside of Pittsburgh, PA, has included “sexual orientation” and “union membership” among the list of specifically protected characteristics in published statements concerning its nondiscrimination policy. Naturally, the college’s lesbian, gay, and bisexual students and employees all relied upon these statements in making decisions about attending classes and working (or continuing to work) at the college.
Recently, an employee of the college filed a grievance because he married his same-sex partner in Massachusetts, but was denied health insurance for his husband by the college. Though the college disclaims any connection between this grievance and its current actions, the college professes to have recently discovered that neither “sexual orientation” nor “union membership” are included among the protected characteristics that were listed in the only policy officially adopted by the college’s trustees in 1998. So what has the college now set about doing? Putting a revised version of the policy before the trustees to bring official policy in line with the long-standing expectations of its students and employees? No, the college has instead set about scrubbing “sexual orientation” and “union membership” from all of the published statements about its nondiscrimination policy. As the employee who filed the grievance put it: “‘Why now after nine years?’ he asked. ‘How many institutions do you know that are taking people out of a non-discrimination policy?'”
For more, read the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette story here.