Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Discrimination

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 What are Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Discrimination?

Sexual orientation discrimination and gender identity discrimination are two distinct concepts, each with their own unique characteristics. They can be described as follows:

Sexual Orientation Discrimination

This form of discrimination occurs when an individual is subjected to disparate treatment or harassment due to their actual or perceived sexual orientation, which may include being gay, lesbian, transgender, heterosexual, or bisexual.

One example of sexual orientation discrimination is when an employer refuses to hire a candidate based on their actual or perceived sexual orientation. This may happen if the employer believes that hiring someone who identifies as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender could negatively affect the company’s reputation or culture.

This type of discrimination can also occur when an employer treats an employee differently than other employees based on their sexual orientation, such as giving them undesirable assignments or denying them opportunities for advancement.

Sexual orientation discrimination can also occur against people who are perceived to be a certain sexual orientation, even if that perception is incorrect.

For example, an employer may assume that an employee is gay or lesbian based on their appearance, mannerisms, or behavior and treat them unfavorably as a result. This type of discrimination is illegal under Title VII, regardless of whether the individual identifies as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender.

Gender Identity Discrimination

This specific type of discrimination arises when an individual experiences harassment or disparate treatment based on the manner in which they express themselves concerning their gender. This may involve presenting themselves in a way that is typically associated with the opposite sex or undergoing medical treatments to transition to the opposite gender.

One example of gender identity discrimination is when an employer denies a promotion or job opportunity to an employee who identifies as transgender or gender non-conforming. This could happen because the employer may have biases against people who do not conform to traditional gender norms or because they do not want to associate with a transgender employee for fear of negative public perception.

Another example could be when an employer forces an employee to use a bathroom that does not align with their gender identity, causing emotional distress and humiliation.

Discrimination may also occur during the hiring process, such as when an employer refuses to hire someone who identifies as transgender or gender non-conforming. This could happen because of the employer’s biases or lack of understanding regarding gender identity.

Gender identity discrimination can take many forms and may include the use of derogatory language or other forms of harassment, such as teasing or bullying, based on the individual’s gender expression. This type of discrimination is illegal under Title VII, and people who experience it may have legal options to pursue justice and protect their rights.

Gender Discrimination

This form of discrimination differs from gender identity discrimination and should not be confused with it.

Gender discrimination happens when a person faces harassment or disparate treatment due to their gender, and it is sometimes referred to as sexism. The distinction between gender and gender identity discrimination lies in the fact that gender identity discrimination also encompasses gender expression.

In a landmark case on June 15, 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that all three forms of discrimination are illegal and explicitly protected by the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII). Before this ruling, only gender discrimination was recognized under Title VII.

Employers are now prohibited from terminating an employee solely based on their sexual orientation, including being gay, transgender, or bisexual, in every state.

Do Federal Laws Explicitly Protect Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination?

As mentioned previously, Title VII, a federal law, did not cover sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination before the U.S. Supreme Court’s groundbreaking decision. Now, Title VII encompasses all three types of discrimination.

Generally, Title VII applies to employers in both public and private sectors with 15 or more employees. Additionally, it covers federal agencies, labor organizations, and the federal government itself.

As a result of this ruling, federal law now explicitly protects against sexual orientation discrimination in both public and private sectors, as long as the requirements outlined in Title VII are met.

How Does Federal Law Protect Me from Private Sector Sexual Orientation Discrimination?

Under Title VII of federal law, employers are strictly prohibited from discriminating against employees or workers based on their sexual orientation. This includes treating an employee unfairly in any aspect of their employment, such as job assignments, promotions, termination, compensation, fringe benefits, and more.

For example, an employer cannot terminate an employee due to their bisexuality. If this happens, the employee may file a claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which will then conduct an investigation. Depending on the findings, the employer may be required to change their policies or comply with the EEOC’s chosen remedy to resolve the issue.

If the EEOC’s investigation does not yield satisfactory results for the employee, they may proceed to file a lawsuit against their employer under Title VII after obtaining a Right to Sue letter. Before the aforementioned case was decided, sexual orientation discrimination did not exist as grounds for a lawsuit. Instead, the employee only had the option of bringing a suit on the basis of gender discrimination.

Can Federal Laws Protect Me from Gender Identity Discrimination?

Yes, federal laws have been updated to include gender identity as a protected category under Title VII. Employers who discriminate or harass employees based on their gender identity or nonconformity with gender roles or stereotypes are violating the law. The process to file a claim for gender identity discrimination is similar to that for sexual orientation discrimination.

Do State Laws Provide Protections Against Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Discrimination?

While federal law initially only prohibited discrimination based on race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, and sex, many states have taken it upon themselves to offer additional protections against discriminatory acts based on sexual orientation or gender identity. In states where such protections have not been enacted, it has been challenging to bring lawsuits against employers based on these grounds.

However, under Title VII, a person can now file a lawsuit for sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination regardless of whether their state has specific laws in place.

Is Hiring a Lawyer Necessary to Address Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity Discrimination?

If you believe you have been subjected to discrimination or harassment by your employer because of your sexual orientation or gender identity, you should seek the assistance of a local discrimination lawyer.

A lawyer will guide you through the process of filing a claim and provide counsel on the best course of legal action for your situation. It is essential to have proper legal representation in cases of discrimination to ensure that your rights are protected and that you receive the compensation you are entitled to.

LegalMatch can be a helpful resource in finding a discrimination lawyer who handles cases involving sexual orientation or gender identity.

By filling out a simple online form, you can connect with lawyers in your area who are experienced in handling discrimination cases. LegalMatch’s matching process ensures that you are connected with a lawyer who is the right fit for your specific needs.

Additionally, LegalMatch’s lawyer review system allows you to read reviews from other clients, so you can make an informed decision about which lawyer to hire.

Use LegalMatch to find a discrimination lawyer near you.

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