Despite positive, sweeping changes in the law, LGBT workers still experience discrimination in the workplace because of their sexual orientation.
The Williams’ Institute at the UCLA School of Law conducted a 2021 survey about sexual orientation discrimination.
According to their findings released in September 2021, one in ten employees reported experiencing discrimination.
Workers of color were “significantly” more likely to experience sexual orientation discrimination.
Over 50% of LGBT workers reported “covering” their sexual orientation or gender identity at work to keep harassment at bay.
What Is Sexual Orientation Discrimination?
Sexual orientation discrimination occurs when an employer treats an employee differently than another employee based on actual or perceived sexual orientation.
For example, if you are a gay man and your employer fires you but does not fire a straight woman who is in the same situation as you, then this may be discrimination based on sexual orientation.
What Federal Law Prohibits Discrimination Based on Sexual Orientation?
Discrimination based on sexual orientation is illegal under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (the Civil Rights Act).
The specific language of the Civil Rights Act bans workplace discrimination based on sex.
In a June 2020 case, however, the United States Supreme Court ruled that the Civil Rights Act’s protections against discrimination based on sex necessarily extend to that of sexual orientation.
Does California Have Legal Protections for the LGBT+ Community?
Yes. California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) prohibits discrimination against sexuality.
The FEHA prohibits employers from treating differently employees that are (or are perceived to be) of a certain sexual orientation.
EEOC and Sexual Orientation
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is the federal agency that enforces federal laws that prohibit discrimination in the workplace.
Additionally, the EEOC investigates claims of sexual orientation discrimination of federal, state, and private sector employees.
If your employer reduces your pay because of your sexual orientation, then you may have a discrimination claim under the Equal Pay Act.
You may file a discrimination lawsuit against your employer under the Equal Pay Act without first filing an EEOC claim.
Because the law changes and each situation is different, talk with an attorney about your sexual orientation discrimination case.
For other claims, you may have to file a complaint with the EEOC before filing a discrimination lawsuit against your employer.
If the EEOC determines that you have a claim of sexual orientation discrimination, it will issue you a “Notice of the Right to Sue” at the end of its investigation.
Once you receive this notice, you typically must file a lawsuit within 90 days. If you miss this deadline, you may forfeit your right to sue.
Contacting a sexual orientation discrimination attorney may help you understand and protect your rights.
Is Sexual Orientation a Protected Class?
Yes. Since the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Bostock v. Clayton County (issued June 15, 2020), “sexual orientation” is now considered a protected class under the Civil Rights Act.
Likewise, California’s FEHA treats sexual orientation as a protected class. California’s law also protects family and friends of those who are or are perceived to be of a certain sexual orientation.
If you’re harassed at work because of your sibling’s sexual orientation, for example, then you may have a claim of workplace discrimination.
Occasional, casual, or otherwise unintentionally offensive comments are not, on their own, considered illegal.
If these types of comments occur frequently and create a hostile work environment, however, you may have a claim against your employer.
Actual vs. Perceived Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity
The law protects you against sexual orientation discrimination, regardless of whether your employer correctly perceived your sexual orientation.
It is enough that your employer is treating you differently because of sexual orientation.
How a Sexual Orientation Discrimination Lawyer Can Help You
A sexual orientation discrimination lawyer advocates for you and helps you understand your rights.
A discrimination lawyer may also be able to help you with the EEOC claims process, such as how and when to file a claim.
If you choose to file a lawsuit for LGBT discrimination in the workplace, a discrimination attorney may be able to represent you in court.
The sexual orientation discrimination lawyers at the Workplace Rights Law Group are here to help.
The Workplace Rights Law Group provides legal representation tailored to your situation, understanding that the case is not just a case—it’s your life.
Call the Workplace Rights Law Group today at 818-237-4116.