Rights of California LGBT Employees Against Workplace Discrimination

Posted by Sessions & Kimball |
rights of Clifornia LGBT employees

LGBT discrimination has been present in the workplace for decades. Although the situation has improved tremendously through internal company policies and social awareness, LGBT employees are still frequently victims of employment discrimination. As reported by the Williams Institute, a think tank at the UCLA School of Law, between 15% to 43% of LGBT workers have been fired, harassed, or denied promotion based on their LGBT status. For transgender employees, a whopping 78% reported mistreatment or harassment at work.

At this point, federal law provides no specific protections for LGBT employees based on their sexual identity or orientation. Although federal law has provided protection against discrimination on the basis of race and sex for decades, the federal government has repeatedly failed to pass employment legislation protecting LGBT workers, despite the fact such legislation has repeatedly been introduced to Congress since the 1990s. Most recently, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (“ENDA”), which would have provided such protection, passed the Senate in 2013 and President Obama pledged to sign it, but the House of Representatives failed to pass it.

While federal law has come up short in protecting LGBT workers, California state law does provide such protection. The California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), signed in 1992 by Republican Gov. Pete Wilson, specifically provides LGBT employees with protection from discrimination and harassment in the workplace on the basis of gender, gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation.

If you have been the victim of LGBT discrimination in the workplace, our gender and orientation discrimination lawyers at Sessions & Kimball LLP can help. We focus our practice exclusively on protecting employee rights. Our Orange County attorneys have 140 years of combined experience and an extensive record of success, having handled thousands of cases and recovering millions of dollars for employees.

What Constitutes LGBT Discrimination in the Workplace?

Case of sexual orientation discrimination can be blatant and obvious or more subtle. However, they all involve some type of adverse employment action taken because the employee is lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual, or transgender. Examples of possible adverse actions include:

  • Paying LGBT employees less than others performing the same work
  • Promoting employees who are less qualified and not LGBT
  • Failing to promote an employee on the basis of his or her sexual orientation
  • Withdrawing a job offer, failing to hire, or firing an employee because he or she is LGBT

California law protects LGBT workers from harassment in the workplace as well as from adverse employment actions. Harassment may involve repeated and offensive sexual orientation jokes, abusive behavior, or threats.

It is also illegal in California to discriminate against an employee or applicant because of assumptions about sexual orientation derived from perception or appearance. Thus, regardless of whether the employee is actually LGBT, adverse actions taken by the employer based on this perception are prohibited under state law.

Orange County Attorney Protecting Employees Against LGBT Discrimination

If you have been fired, demoted, harassed, denied employment, or passed over for promotion on the basis of sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, or gender expression, you may have a valid claim for compensation against the employer. Contact our office to arrange for a free case consultation.