Sexual orientation discrimination continues to be a serious problem in workplaces across the country. In fact, according to a recent study from the Williams Institute at UCLA’s School of Law, almost half of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender workers have experienced it during their careers.
Fortunately, the law is beginning to protect LGBT individuals from the catastrophic consequences of workplace discrimination. Indeed, in 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act protects these individuals. Do you have to be gay to take advantage of Title VII’s protections, though?
Discrimination based on perceived sexual orientation
While it is clearly off-limits for employers to discriminate against LGBT applicants and employees, the law goes further. Specifically, it also offers protections to individuals who others perceive to be lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. As a result, you do not have to actually be a member of the LGBT community to be free from sexual orientation or gender identity discrimination when you go to work.
Your legal rights and options
If someone is discriminating against you because of your perceived homosexuality, bisexuality or transgender status, you have legal rights. You should be able to ask your employer to investigate the matter and come up with a strategy for stopping the discrimination. As you might expect, however, some employers do not take employee complaints seriously, especially when they involve sexual orientation or gender identity.
Ultimately, if your in-house complaint goes nowhere, it may be necessary to file an official discrimination charge with the appropriate government agency.