J. Dominic Campodonico, partner in the San Francisco office of Gordon & Rees, authored an article published in DRI’s Summer issue of In-House Defense Quarterly titled “Lessons Learned from Indiana: Corporations Can Improve Diversity and Inclusion by Opposing Laws that May Lead to Discrimination.”
In the article, Campodonico discussed the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (“RFRA”) and various state RFRA laws and their application to for-profit corporations. “While members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (“LGBT”) communities can now enjoy the legal protections and benefits of civil marriage . . . some fear that state RFRA laws will be used by companies to deny services to LGBT individuals,” he wrote.
“One state that recently passed its own RFRA law is Indiana. Of particular note, Indiana is one of 30 states that does not include LGBTs in its nondiscrimination framework. Stated differently, other states that have passed their own RFRA laws already include LGBTs in their civil rights laws, thus protecting them from discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodation. Indiana offers no such protections.” Further, “[a]pplication of Indiana’s RFRA law, given the absence of protections for LGBTs in its nondiscrimination framework, leads to an endless number of examples, whether intended or not, of permissible discriminatory acts.”
“With this backdrop, after Indiana’s governor signed SB 101 into law, corporations advocated for change.…. The CEOs of nine companies wrote a joint letter to the governor requesting immediate action to ensure that the RFRA law will not sanction discrimination against any resident of or visitor to Indiana.” Campodonico provided examples of actions quickly taken by other corporations to oppose the law.
“Within a week, Indiana legislators passed a “clarification bill,” which the governor immediately signed into law. The amendment stated that the law does not allow the refusal of services, public accommodations, goods, employment, or housing on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, among other protected groups.”
Campodonico went on to say, “[t]he lessons learned from Indiana…are that corporations yield the ability to impact necessary change to ensure fairness in laws passed by states.”
J. Dominic Campodonico has more than 17 years of experience serving as co-national litigation coordinating counsel, regional counsel, and local counsel in mass tort litigation involving manufacturers and distributors of a variety of pharmaceuticals, medical devices, and related products. He also assists clients with high-stakes matters that frequently occur simultaneously with product liability litigation, such as risk management, compliance, related litigation, and investigations. Mr. Campodonico is active in the firm’s national diversity and inclusion efforts. He also serves on DRI’s Diversity Committee.
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