Updated: Jul 7
What can LGBTQ+ employees do when they become targets of discrimination?
Sexual Orientation Discrimination refers to willful bias against people who are not heterosexual in orientation. It is sometimes referred to as LGBTQ+ discrimination (includes lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, non-binary, etc.).
Although, by basic definition, Sexual Orientation Discrimination should cover all forms of discrimination brought by prejudice against an employee's sexuality. If allusions are made to the subject's sexuality, whether regarded as "straight" or not, it should count. In your California Attorney Search, consider learning about what you might encounter.
So, let's discuss LGBT+ employee rights, as they are often handled by our best discrimination lawyers in California.
While a heterosexual worker discriminating against an LGBTQ+ employee is a common scenario, discrimination may also occur in the opposite direction, with an LGBTQ+ employee discriminating against a heterosexual employee. However, the LGBTQ+ community has had a long history of exclusion and discrimination. Most of the time, they're on the receiving end of it.
Discrimination can begin innocently enough, but it may escalate into serious acts such as deliberate infliction of emotional or mental stress, physical attack or battery, defamation, and/or invasion of privacy.
Discrimination may occur based on both actual and perceived sexual orientation, regardless of how victims identify themselves. Even if an employee is not a lesbian or is not out at work as a lesbian, it is discrimination if an employee claims another employee is a lesbian and discriminates against them as a result.
How to Spot It
LGBT discrimination may be overt or covert. Still, each case requires an adverse job action as a result of a colleague's prejudice.
Here are examples of what to look out for:
Finding out that an applicant or employee engages in a same-sex relationship, and a company refuses to recruit, withdraws a job offer, or fires an employee.
Refusing to promote someone because of their sexual orientation.
Promoting non-LBGTQ+ workers who are less eligible.
Paying an LGBTQ+ employee less than other workers who do the same job.
Excluding LGBTQ+ staff from some forms of employment.
Workers who are LGBTQ+ are denied the same benefits as straight, cis-gender, or heterosexual employees.
An employer allowing a target's coworkers to create hostile work environments; i.e., allowing or ignoring incidents of bullying, microaggressions, or targeted harassment.
California law protects workers from workplace abuse, such as threats, hostile conduct, or repetitive, derogatory jokes that specifically target an individual's sexual orientation, in addition to barring employers from discriminating against employees based on their sexual orientation. If you've been experiencing any of these, consult with the Top Employment Lawyers in California to protect your rights.
LGBTQ+ Workers in California
Fortunately, California is one of the states with the largest number of working lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people. All discrimination based on an employee's sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity is prohibited under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA).
The prohibition includes hiring, promoting, firing, demoting, or any other acts that affect an employee's pay, benefits, working conditions, and other factors related to their employment. It prohibits discriminatory actions on the grounds of an employee being a man or a woman or failing to conform to a stereotype or socially-constructed expectation of how an individual should act.
California's Anti-Discrimination Act prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation.
The California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) protects LGBTQ+ and gender non-conforming employees from discrimination and abuse in the workplace. Individuals are also protected under the FEHA from discrimination based on their sex, ethnicity, gender orientation, or gender speech.
Once a company hires five employees—a good number to compare how one is treated to the rest—these workers are all eligible to file a discrimination case. Moreover, under the FEHA, an organization only has to hire one employee for employees to be able to file discrimination charges based on sexual orientation.
Discrimination based on gender and sexual orientation is illegal in the United States. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) filed its first two cases on behalf of employees facing sexual orientation discrimination in early 2016.
Like other forms of discrimination, sexual orientation is protected under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. Sexual orientation discrimination, according to the EEOC, is sex discrimination.
The following are examples of sexual orientation discrimination, according to the EEOC:
Employees are being denied promotions whether they are gay or straight.
Target's sexuality is constantly brought up at work, and it begins to affect how well they perform tasks.
Employees are being harassed because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
Salary and work placement decisions centered on an employee's sexual orientation or gender identity.
Employees who have experienced prejudice and biases related to their sexual orientation can now file a case with the help of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). This may lead to hearings, voluntary settlements, or litigation. If federal courts favor the EEOC, workplace LGBTQ+ discrimination cases will have strong claims in the future.
To prove your California employment discrimination lawsuit, you need to have adequate evidence showing the discrimination. To help you with this, hire a Los Angeles sexual harassment attorney.
What Can An Employer Do?
1. Hold Educational Conferences and Trainings
The new law aims to emphasize these protected attributes in anti-harassment training to help deter workplace harassment of LGBTQ+ workers. Employers or obliged, by law, to ensure full compliance. However, training on these dynamic and contentious subjects can be difficult.
The discussion of sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, and the complexities of gender transitions requires the education process to slow down. Going too fast will either cut down on the necessary time for discussions or will prompt facilitators to skin over them entirely.
Trainers should make sure to stay on board with the training and devote enough time to the other aspects of the company's overall harassment and discrimination prevention program; including actionable tasks like monitoring, incident investigation, and non-retaliation safeguards. There are ways for an employer to ensure full compliance with the new legislation while also ensuring that all of the training's features and topics are properly addressed.
2. Outline and describe how the legislation and company practices require LGBTQ+ workers to be handled fairly.
The aim of California's mandatory harassment training is to create a respectful work environment. Race, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender, gender expression, gender identity, religion, marital status, genetic characteristics, ancestry, mental impairment, physical disability, medical condition, military/veteran status, and age are all covered characteristics under California law. At least 12 of these characteristics can be found in every workplace.
Employers should use the training to remind managers that the law's goal is to create a respectful workplace atmosphere, not to reduce someone to their characteristics. Everyone has an ethnicity, skin color, ancestry, gender, gender expression, gender identity, and sexual orientation. A single characteristic or a small group of characteristics cannot define an individual because several characteristics relate to all.
3. Emphasize the importance of assessing workers based on their outputs, not their identity.
The California Supreme Court described harassment as "behavior beyond the scope of required job performance, conduct presumably engaged in for personal pleasure, out of meanness or discrimination, or for other personal reasons" in a 1998 decision.
Employers may want to emphasize that managers' primary concern should be the job performance of their direct reports and other workers in the company, rather than an employee's gender identity, gender expression, or sexual preference (or some other protected characteristic) unless it is to avoid harassment or prejudice.
During training, employers can remind managers that if an employee is doing a good job, then it is a step towards the company's objectives. Regardless of who they are, they are entitled to equal respect, regardless of gender identity or language, sexual orientation, or any other attribute.
Employers who are more knowledgeable about gender and sexual identities are less likely to have prejudices in the workplace. As a result, you can mitigate cases of sexual harassment and discrimination. Employers must advise all employees that they are not allowed to discriminate on the basis of sexual preference or identity. Recognizing and honoring the persona of an employee will often go a long way.
4. Emphasize the importance of managers adhering to these policies.
In a recent study on sex discrimination, the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission stressed that the aim of compliance training is not to change your mind. It's enough preparation in order to keep your job.
This assertion acknowledges the limitations of anti-harassment education. A two-hour mandatory training session is unlikely to change a supervisor's mind about transgender people if, for example, he or she refuses to call transgender workers by their chosen names or refer to them by their preferred pronouns.
The goal of the training is to make sure managers are fully aware of the workplace behavior requirements and the disciplinary repercussions if those standards are not met. Employers must inform managers, staff, and administrators about legally acceptable and reasonable practices and actions, as well as what constitutes illegal activity.
Employers should expect the newly passed rules and regulations to be strictly followed, notwithstanding the continuing fights for equity and non-discrimination. In the future, more protective laws, rules, and regulations are expected to be implemented. Employers must also continue to change in terms of offering a supportive and secure working atmosphere for all workers, not just transgender employees.
Some Suggestions: How Bosses Can Keep The Workplace Open and Welcoming
Harassment training can also provide realistic advice that encourages LGBTQ+ workers to work in a safe atmosphere, such as the following:
Employers and their companies should ensure that their policies are up to date and specifically forbid and punish abuse, discrimination, and retaliation based on all protected characteristics, such as gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation. Employers should go through the policy requirements in training again.
Supervisors should be told not to engage in gossip, rumors, or other speculations or conversations about their employees' sexual orientations or gender identities.
Employers should also inform supervisors that it is against company policy for workers to engage in any racist behavior aimed at employees because they support LGBTQ+ causes.
Employers should stress the importance of addressing workers by their chosen name. Employers may also instruct employees to use the name and pronoun that corresponds to the person's gender identity and language when referring to them.
Employers should post the appropriate transgender rights poster produced by the Department of Equal Employment and Housing in a noticeable and accessible position at work.
An employer may assign human resources experts to assist transitioning workers with legal access to facilities, dress-code problems, and respectful and proper contact with other employees about the transition process.
If You are Vulnerable, What Can You Do at Work?
Even if the law does not expressly protect victims of discrimination based on sexual orientation, your organization can. Here are some good ways to start defending yourself from sexual orientation discrimination at work, regardless of your situation:
Make sure you're familiar with company policies. If you work for a private organization, read the employee handbook and other related documents to learn about their anti-discrimination policies. Is