In the workplace, one form of sex discrimination is the unfavorable treatment of employees or job
applicants who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer (LGBTQ). Although the federal
government does not currently list the LGBTQ community as a protected category unless you work in
the public sector, many states, including California, do provide protections.
California Law Prohibits Discrimination on the Basis of Sexual Orientation
California state law deems sexual orientation discrimination to be unlawful in both the public sector and the private sector. Still, discrimination continues. Members of the LGBTQ community are often treated unfairly during the employment application process and in the workplace because of their sexual orientation or identity. Harassing an employee with homophobic or insulting remarks about gays, lesbians, bisexuals or transgender people may also be deemed discriminatory. These types of comments can come from colleagues, supervisors or owners, or may be made by clients, customers, contractors or others the employee comes in contact with in the course of business, if the employer is aware of the behavior and fails to take appropriate action.
Some local and county governments also have laws prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
The first step is usually to file a complaint with the employer’s human resources department, or speak to a supervisor. The employee may be required to follow internal procedures and even to make a report to a governmental agency before pursuing a lawsuit based on sexual orientation discrimination, so it is important to get thorough, accurate information before taking action.
Retaliation for Sexual Orientation Discrimination Claims
Many people who have been the victim of discrimination or other unlawful employer practices fear retaliation if they complain to human resources or take legal action. Retaliation may take many forms, including termination, suspension, being passed over for promotion, or being assigned to undesirable work.
Retaliating against the employee or job applicant for complaining about illegal discrimination is itself unlawful, and can open up the employer to additional liability.
Help is Available if You are Facing Discrimination
If you feel your sexual orientation has affected your ability to get hired, receive training or get a promotion, or has resulted in termination, you may have a claim for sexual orientation discrimination. Other examples of discrimination include being denied spousal health benefits because you are gay or lesbian, getting paid a lower salary, or being denied access to common bathrooms because of gender identity.
Although federal law does not yet protect against sexual orientation discrimination in the private sector, there has been an increase in case law that supports the illegality of such discrimination. If you are a resident of California and feel you have been the victim of sexual orientation discrimination, talk with a lawyer who understands discrimination law and keeps up to date on the changing laws.
Schedule a Free Consultation Today
Yarian and Associates can help you to protect your rights in the workplace whether you are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender. We fight discrimination in all its various forms. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation and to discuss your workplace rights.