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Sexual orientation discrimination describes the unequal treatment of employees based on a particular perceived sexual designation, such as gay, lesbian, bisexual, and even heterosexual. Unfortunately, workplace discrimination against those who identify as LGBTQ+ is far too prevalent. You may need to consult with a sexual orientation discrimination lawyer who specializes in LGBTQ employment rights.

Federal legislation prohibits workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Additionally, the state of California makes this form of LGBTQ employment discrimination illegal in the workplace. If you experienced discrimination based on your sexual orientation, you may be able to hire an LGBTQ discrimination lawyer and file a lawsuit against your employer for damages.

Protections Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination

California is one of the more progressive states for sexual minority rights. Workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is a violation of California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), which makes it illegal for your employer to discriminate or harass you based on your sexual orientation.

The FEHA covers all aspects of employment, including hiring, firing, training, compensation, promotion, and benefits. Additionally, employers must take reasonable steps to prevent LGBTQ employment discrimination and harassment based on these characteristics. Discrimination can be based on real or perceived sexual orientation including:

  • Gay
  • Lesbian
  • Bisexual
  • Homosexual
  • Heterosexual
  • Straight

It is important to know that these FEHA protections only apply to employees with 5 or more employees. Even if your employer meets this criteria, you must also show proof to your LGBTQ employment discrimination attorney that you or another employee was harmed substantially due to the unlawful action taken.

While some forms of sexual orientation discrimination may be obvious, others may be more discrete because they happen behind closed doors. Employers are often careful about what to say or do outwardly because they know that this type of discrimination is unlawful. Therefore, it is important to look for and document telltale signs of LGBTQ employment discrimination, including:

  • Making jokes about your real or perceived sexual orientation
  • Making jokes about what you do in your private life
  • Accusing you of being a certain sexual orientation based on perceived traits
  • Allowing a hostile work environment against gay employees
  • Not taking action when you report incidents of discrimination
  • Sharing offensive content with coworkers, such as memes or images
  • Forcing you to quit because of your sexual orientation
  • Firing you based on a change in your sexual identity

  • Yes. On a federal level, the EEOC is the federal agency that is responsible for handling complaints of discrimination in the workplace. In the 2020 verdict of Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia, the Supreme Court held that firing individuals based on their sexual orientation violated Title Vll’s prohibition on sex-based discrimination.

    Federal law forbids sexual orientation discrimination in all aspects of employment, including:

    • Hiring
    • Firing
    • Pay
    • Job assignments
    • Promotions
    • Layoffs
    • Terms of employment
  • The California Fair Employment & Housing Council Regulations Regarding Transgender Identity and Expression specifies that gender identity means each person’s internal understanding of their gender, such as being male, female, a combination of male and female, neither male nor female and/or nonbinary. A person may have a gender identity different from the sex the person was assigned at birth.

  • In California, all employees— including transgender employees— have a right to safe and appropriate restroom and locker room facilities that correspond with their gender identity, regardless of the employee’s sex assigned at birth (biological sex). In addition, where possible, an employer should provide an easily accessible, gender-neutral, or “all-gender”, single-user facility for use by any employee. The use of single-stall restrooms must be labeled as “All Gender,” “Unisex,” “Gender Neutral,” or something similar.

  • As an employee you are protected from retaliation from your employer when complaining about sexual orientation discrimination. Filing a complaint regarding sexual orientation discrimination falls under a protected activity. Essentially, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 states that it is illegal for an employer to retaliate, harass, or punish you for:

    1. opposing employment discrimination that the employee reasonably believed was unlawful;
    2. filing an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission charge or complaint;
    3. or participating in any investigation, hearing, or other proceeding connected to Title VII enforcement.

    Therefore, your employer cannot retaliate or take adverse employment actions against you or your complaint. If you would like to know more about retaliation and how to report such cases, read this.

  • California Law specifies that employers or interviewers should not ask questions designed to detect a person’s gender identity or gender transition history such as asking about why the person changed their name. Employers should also not ask questions about a person’s body or whether they plan to have surgery. Besides, it is illegal for an employer to fail to hire you because of your sexual orientation, which makes their inquiry about your sexual orientation irrelevant and unnecessary.


Fight Sexual Orientation Discrimination on the Job

When your sexual orientation is the basis for workplace discrimination that you have experienced, you need a trustworthy employment discrimination lawyer with vast knowledge of current state and local laws available for your protection. With a sexual orientation discrimination attorney, you may be able to file a claim or lawsuit against your employer in order to pursue damages for:

  • Back pay
  • Front pay
  • Higher income from a promotion, raise, or bonus
  • Benefits, including health insurance and pension
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress
  • Attorney costs and legal fees

Contact Shegerian & Associates today for the experienced legal assistance you need to successfully address your case.

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