Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Discrimination
“What is Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Discrimination?”
Sexual Orientation Discrimination occurs in the workplace when an employee is subjected to some type of negative employment action solely due to their sexual orientation, or perceived sexual orientation.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) interprets and enforces “sex discrimination” based on gender identity or sexual orientation as well even though Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 does not explicitly include sexual orientation or gender identity in its list of protected classes. Rather the Commission, consistent with Supreme Court case law, interprets the statute’s sex discrimination provision as prohibiting discrimination against employees on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.
Examples of gender identity or sexual orientation sex discrimination claims include:
- Failing to hire an application because he/she is transgender.
- Firing an employee because he/she is planning or has made a gender transition.
- Denying an employee equal access to a common restroom corresponding to the employee’s gender identity.
- Harassing an employee because of a gender transition
- Denying an employee a promotion because he/she is gay or straight.
- Discriminating by paying an employee a lower salary because of sexual orientation
- Denying health insurance to an employee’s spouse because of their sexual orientation.
- Harassing an employee because of his/her sexual orientation.
“What can I do if I have been discriminated against because of my sexual orientation or gender identity?”
First you will need to file a charge with the EEOC no later than 180 days from the last day the discrimination took place. After an investigation of your case, the EEOC will grant a “Notice-of-Right-to-Sue” letter, which gives you permission to file a lawsuit in a court of law. Once you have been issued a Notice-of-Right-to-Sue letter you must filed your lawsuit within 90 days. This is a serious deadline and there are no extensions!
“Will I lose my job if I complain?”
Federal law also prohibits employers from retaliating against workers who oppose discriminatory employment practice. Meaning if you report incidents of sexual harassment to your supervisor or human resources department, or file a charge with the EEOC, or file a lawsuit based on your gender identity or sexual orientation discrimination, your employer cannot take adverse employment action against you.
Unfortunately, there is no guarantee your employer will follow this law but there may be additional claims against those employers who chose to ignore this law and retaliate against employees who report this type of behavior.
If you believe you have been a victim of Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity discrimination, or if your employer retaliated against you for reporting incidents of sexual orientation or gender identity discrimination in the workplace, please contact our office immediately at 817-479-9229 to speak with an experienced employment law attorney or submit your case online.