Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Discrimination

As we embark on all of the adventures a new decade has to offer, progress towards equal inclusivity in the workplace still has a long way to go in every state in America.  The Sooner State is no exception.  All employees are granted certain protections from such various discriminations by federal, city and state anti-discrimination laws, which include prohibiting employers from using discriminatory practices against an employee based on their sexual orientation or on the gender they identity with.

The EEOC states that it “interprets and enforces Title VII's prohibition of sex discrimination as forbidding any employment discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation.  These protections apply regardless of any contrary state or local laws.
“Through investigation, conciliation, and litigation of charges by individuals against private sector employers, as well as hearings and appeals for federal sector workers, the Commission has taken the position that existing sex discrimination provisions in Title VII protect lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) applicants and employees against employment bias  A growing number of court decisions have endorsed the Commission's interpretation of Title VII.”


What constitutes Sexual Orientation Discrimination at work?

Sexual orientation discrimination involves treating an applicant or employee unfavorably because of their sexual orientation: for instance, paying an employee a lower salary because she is gay, or withholding spousal health insurance benefits to an employee because his spouse is of the same sex while providing spousal benefits to different-sex couples. Sexual orientation discrimination may also involve treating someone unfavorably because the person associates with a person of a certain sexual orientation, such as discriminating against an employee because they have a gay or transgender family member.
Harassment on the basis of sexual orientation can include myriad situations, such as making offensive or derogatory remarks about a person’s sexual orientation and/or using homophobic slurs. Harassment is illegal when it is so frequent or severe that it creates a hostile or offensive work environment or when it results in an adverse employment action, such as termination.

Can anyone besides a supervisor commit discriminatory acts? 

Harassers and discriminators can be the victim’s supervisor, a supervisor in another area, a co-worker, or someone who is not an employee of the employer, such as a client, vendor, customer or other affiliate.

Harassment and discrimination can happen to anyone, regardless of sexual orientation; for example, it is possible for a straight employee to be discriminated against by a gay supervisor. Unfortunately, there are still far too many instances where employees find themselves the target of workplace discrimination based solely upon their sexual preference. In the Sooner state, city and state laws have robust provisions to protect the rights of LGBT employees.

The law forbids discrimination when it comes to any aspect of employment, including hiring, firing, pay, job assignments, promotions, layoff, training, fringe benefits, and any other term or condition of employment. If a person is treated badly by their employer for their complaints of sexual orientation discrimination or harassment (for instance, by being terminated after complaining about discrimination) they may also have a retaliation claim.

For more information about the EEOC’s position on topics of sexual preference and gender identity discrimination, please visit https://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/newsroom/wysk/enforcement_protections_lgbt_workers.cfm#overview.

How do I proceed next?

Adams Law Office is fiercely dedicated to protecting the rights of employees who have been discriminated against based on their sexual orientation.  Contact the experienced legal professionals at Adams Law Office for supportive counsel and aggressive representation in sexual orientation discrimination claims.  You are not alone. Being discriminated against based upon your sexual preference is not your fault, and it is not ever acceptable.  We will fight alongside you every step of the way to ensure that your rights and livelihood are protected and those at fault are held accountable. Call us today at 918-587-8700 to set up a free consultation.