Can I Be Fired or Discriminated Against for My Sexual Orientation?

Can I be fired for my sexual orientationIt is illegal for an employer to discriminate against an employee because of the employee’s sexual orientation. If you have been fired, or if you have been denied a job, or if you have faced discrimination at the workplace because of your sexual orientation, it is important for you to know your rights. Contact our law firm to speak with an employer attorney and to learn more about your rights.

Sexual orientation and gender expression are not things that one chooses. Someone who identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, or queer (LGBTQ) did not decide to be a homosexual, like how one either chooses to wear green or red socks or whether to use long-sleeve or short-sleeve. Homosexuals and other members of the LGBTQ community were simply born that way and it does not affect their personhood: They are people who must be respected and not be discriminated against simply because of who they love and how they look.

Unfortunately, there are some people in this world who have antiquated beliefs and look down upon members of the LGBTQ community simply because of who they love and how they choose to identify. Some of these folks climb up the ladder and become supervisors, managers, employers, and CEOs, and they make their decisions – as to who can and cannot work for them – based on who people love. Instead of examining the qualifications of these applicants to determine whether or not they are right for the open position at their company, they base their decisions based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

Can You Be Fired for Being Gay?

Up until recently, it was not illegal for employers to terminate employees who identified as gay. Their sexual orientation was considered enough grounds to tell them to collect all of their things in a small cardboard box and send them packing, in the eyes of the law.

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation violates the basic civil rights of all homosexuals. The court found that sexual orientation discrimination was in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 – an Act which prohibits employers from discriminating against things like sex, color, race, religion, and country of origin. In a way, it still is legal to fire employees based on sexual discrimination if the employer in question works in the private sector. State laws override federal laws for this particular case.

We at the California Labor Law Employment Attorneys Group are here to offer you protection and representation if you believe that you have been wrongfully terminated simply because of your sexual orientation. We help members of the LGBTQ community get the damages to which they are rightfully entitled for the discrimination they receive every single day, and get asked questions regarding what their employer can or cannot do. Examples of such questions include:

  • Can I be fired for being gay?
  • Can I be fired for being LGBT?
  • My boss fired me for being a homosexual. Is that wrongful termination? Who is the best lawyer to sue my employer for discriminating against homosexuals?
  • How can I sue my employer for firing me based on my sexual orientation?
  • My employer terminated me for being a lesbian. Can he legally do that? What are my rights?
  • Can I be fired for being bisexual?
  • I need a lawyer for wrongful termination due to being gay. What should I do?
  • I need the best lawyer to sue my employer for firing me for being gay. What steps should I take?
  • Can I be fired for being transgender?
  • Can my employer fire me for wearing women’s clothes? Can I sue for wrongful termination?

What Is Sexual Orientation Discrimination?

Sexual orientation discrimination occurs when an employee is treated differently simply because of their sexual orientation, or perceived sexual orientation. What does being treated mean, though? Being treated differently can occur in two different ways. The first is things like not being hired, not being promoted; disciplined or even terminated without basis.

The second is harassment. Inappropriate or offensive names, and unwanted touching, leering, or otherwise unwanted behavior towards the individual, is considered harassment.

What Laws Exist to Protect the Rights of LGBTQ?

There are currently no federal laws that protect people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer in the private sector. States may differ, and California is one such state.

The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) offers employees protections against many characteristics, including things like sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression. So what does this mean?

Sexual Orientation: Your employer cannot discriminate against you for being attracted to people of the same sex.

Gender Identity: If you were born with female genitalia but identify as a man, or if you were born with male genitalia but identify as a woman, your employer cannot discriminate against you.

Gender Expression: If you want to wear a dress, and it is within the company’s dress code, your employer cannot discriminate against you whether you “look” like a man or woman. A dress is a dress.

Is It Illegal for Employers to Fire Employees Based on Sexual Orientation?

According to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, it is unlawful for employers to discriminate against employees solely based on their sexual orientation. Unfortunately, current federal laws only apply to federal workers, not those who work in the private sector. So, for example, if you work for a private company and your employer finds out that you are homosexual or a member of the LGBTQ community, they could fire you. This is because sexual orientation is not a protected class like race or sex for private employees. There have been many federal bills introduced to Congress, but none have been passed as law. The Equality Act would prohibit employers across the country to discriminate against employees based off of sexual orientation.

Fortunately, many states have laws which prohibit employers from discriminating against their employees for such inconsequential things like sexual orientation, and so a majority of employees find themselves protected in one way or another (if they live in these states). Almost half of all states have enacted progressive protections including the state of California. For more information, please contact our law firm.

Likewise, as indicated previously, an employer cannot discriminate against a perceived sexual orientation. This means that an employer cannot just think that one is gay due to clothing, behavior, or anything else and then take action against that employee. If you live in California and are undergoing discrimination, you should mention your sexual orientation in order to see if your employer can work with you to fix the problem you are facing. Without proper documented knowledge of sexual orientation, your company can always claim to have been unaware of your sexual orientation, which can mean that it is very difficult to prove sexual orientation discrimination against your employer.

Can I Be Asked Not to Disclose My Sexual Orientation?

If you live in California, or any other state that offers protections to members of the LGBT community, you do not have to disclose any information about your orientation if you don’t want to. Additionally, employers cannot ask you to not talk about your sexual orientation – especially if your heterosexual coworkers can talk about their heterosexual partners. For example, if your heterosexual coworkers can talk about what they did with their partner or spouse of the opposite sex over the weekend or the most exciting parts of their long trip, you cannot be asked to keep quiet about your same-sex partner.

Likewise, if you want to have pictures of your same-sex relationship or marriage, or children on your desk, and your heterosexual counterparts can freely do so, your employer (and other employees) cannot ask you to put away, or likewise not put up, the beautiful pictures of your family.

How Do I File a Claim Against My Employer?

Despite the existence of various laws that protect California LGBTQ employees they still face discrimination in various ways, be it in discreet silent ways, or overt incredibly painful and obvious ways from their employer and even fellow employees.

If you believe that you have faced sexual orientation discrimination, you may have the grounds to file a lawsuit against your employer and receive any damages to which you may be entitled. You will need to speak with a lawyer who specializes in workplace discrimination and wrongful termination matters. A compassionate attorney who has worked with the LGBT community and understands what it’s like to face discrimination. Our Los Angeles lawyers understand where you’re coming from, and they are here to help you. We take cases from Los Angeles and the rest of California.

Before you slap a lawsuit on your employer’s desk and demand for compensation for the damages they may have caused you for the sexual orientation discrimination, you must first file a charge with a government agency. Normally, a discrimination charge can be filed with either a federal or state agency, but since federal law does not prohibit employers from firing you on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression, it is recommended that you file with the state’s government agency. The DFEH is the agency you want to contact and charge with. The California anti-discrimination statute covers discrimination that is not encapsulated by federal law. In order to charge a claim with DFEH, you have to contact them via their toll-free employment discrimination hotline before you set up an appointment at the office.

Time is of the essence if you feel like you have been discriminated against. Do not delay in reporting your discrimination to the DFEH. In order for your claim to have validation, you must file your charge with DFEH within one calendar year of the day you received discrimination. If the DFEH determines that your claim has merit, they will issue a “right-to-sue” letter which then gives you the right to pursue action against your employer. Do not request a right-to-sue letter unless you are fully prepared to go to court because you only have 90 days to file a suit.

The workplace should be a place where people can work and coexist in peace in order to not only maximize efficiency but to create a sustainable work culture. We at the California Labor Law Employment Attorneys Group are here to ensure that you get what you are merited if you are a victim of sexual orientation discrimination at your workplace.

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