Federal laws protect many groups from employment discrimination, including women, people over the age of 40, people with disabilities, and minorities. At this time, no federal law protects people from sexual orientation discrimination in private employment.
Are There Any Legal Protections If No Federal Law in Place?
While federal law does not protect those in the private sector, public and private employees may be protected under state laws.
What States Have Sexual Orientation Discrimination Laws?
An increasing number of states have passed laws that make sexual orientation discrimination illegal in the workplace. Some states have prohibited sexual orientation discrimination in both the private and public sector, while some states have only extended protections to public sector jobs.
States that Prohibit Sexual Orientation Discrimination in Both the Private and Public Sectors
A total of 21 states have made sexual orientation discrimination illegal in all jobs, private and public. The states that have done so are the following:
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- Rhode Island
- The District of Columbia
States that Prohibit Sexual Orientation Discrimination in Only Public Sector Jobs
The following eight states have prohibited sexual orientation discrimination in public sector jobs, but not private:
Protection from Other Sources
In addition to state and federal laws, you may be protected by local city and county ordinances. Over 100 cities and counties have come up with laws making sexual orientation discrimination in the workplace illegal. Also, some companies have decided to prohibit sexual orientation discrimination with their own policies.
What If I Live in an Area with No Protections?
If you happen to live in a place that provides no protections from discrimination based on sexual orientation, you may still be able to sue your employer on other theories of law. For example, you may be able to sue for hostile work environment, work employment harassment, or wrongful termination.
Do I Need a Lawyer for an Issue with Sexual Orientation Discrimination?
An experienced employment lawyer will know the laws in your area and can advise you of whether you have any protections from sexual orientation discrimination. Also, filing employment discrimination claims is a very difficult task with strict deadlines that must be met. A lawyer experienced in employment discrimination can help you file your claim and represent you in court.