Discrimination Against Gays and Lesbians

Many gays and lesbians have suffered discrimination and harassment because of their sexual orientation, particularly in the past. Over the last several decades, American society as a whole has taken huge steps forward in recognizing the legal rights of gay and lesbian individuals. Gays and lesbians are accepted in most areas of the country. However, discrimination still occurs, and sometimes it occurs in the workplace.

Discrimination Based on Sexual Orientation is Illegal

Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, discrimination based on certain characteristics is illegal, including race, sex, religion, and more. Title VII doesn’t explicitly forbid discrimination based on sexual orientation. However, in 2011 and 2012 the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ruled that job discrimination against lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgendered individuals was discrimination based on sex and is therefore illegal. Therefore, in some cases people who are discriminated against because of their sexual orientation could bring a claim under federal law.

Federal laws do explicitly protect federal employees from discrimination based on sexual orientation. In addition, in California the Fair Employment and Housing Act outlaws harassment and discrimination in employment based on sexual orientation, as well as gender, gender identity and gender expression.

Examples and Cases of Sexual Orientation Discrimination

Sexual orientation discrimination occurs when someone is treated differently based on his or her sexual orientation or perceived sexual orientation, whether heterosexual, bisexual, or homosexual. It doesn’t matter if the employer’s perception of your sexual orientation is correct or incorrect – if you have been treated differently at work because of your sexual orientation, you could have a claim. You may also have a claim if you were harassed at work because of your sexual orientation.

Some examples of conduct that could constitute sexual orientation discrimination include being denied a promotion because of perceived or actual sexual orientation, not being hired or being fired because of sexual orientation, harassment from co-workers because of sexual orientation, being treated differently after co-workers find out about your sexual orientation, being segregated away from customers because of sexual orientation, and being asked not to bring your same-sex partner to a company event. In all of these instances, you were treated differently because of your sexual orientation, and you can make a claim under California law.

Steps to Take if Experiencing Sexual Orientation Discrimination

At Liberty Law, Micha Star Liberty believes that no one should be discriminated against at work because of sexual orientation. If an employer or another employee harasses you or discriminates against you because of your sexual orientation, you have legal rights to exercise. An employer also cannot retaliate against you because you have filed a discrimination complaint or participated in a proceeding involving sexual orientation discrimination. If you are retaliated against at work for opposing employment practices that you believe are discriminatory, you may also have a claim against the employer.

If you’re in the San Francisco – Oakland area, including Hayward, Fairfield, Tracy, and Berkeley and have been discriminated against or harassed in the workplace because of your sexual orientation, you have legal rights. Contact Micha Star Liberty, Oakland sexual orientation discrimination attorney, at 415-896-1000 or 510-645-1000. She will help you vigorously pursue your case.

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