Are You a Victim of Workplace Sexual Orientation Discrimination?
Who you are attracted to or who you choose to be in a relationship with should have no bearing on your employment status or your ability to move up the company ladder. Unfortunately, there are still employers that refuse to accept that all men and women are equal, regardless of their sexual orientation.
Under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), it is illegal for an employer (or prospective employer) to discriminate against an individual based on their perceived or actual sexual orientation. This means that an employer cannot fire, fail to promote, fail to hire, or otherwise discriminate against someone because of their sexual orientation, whether it’s real or perceived.
Discrimination based on sexual orientation encompasses a range of orientations, including gay, lesbian, straight, homosexual, heterosexual, and bisexual. It’s important to note that even if an employer discriminates based on a mistaken perception of an individual’s sexual orientation, it’s still considered discrimination. For instance, if an employer discriminates against someone because they think the person is gay, it doesn’t matter if the person is actually straight; the action is still discriminatory.
The FEHA also outlines specific unlawful employment practices related to perceived sexual orientation, such as:
- Refusing to hire
- Firing or discharging
- Refusing to select for a training program
- Discriminating in compensation or conditions of employment
- Providing reduced or inferior benefits
- Assigning inferior work duties
Furthermore, it’s also illegal to discriminate based on gender identity or gender expression under FEHA. Discrimination based on sex includes gender identity and gender expression, with the latter referring to gender-related appearance and behavior, irrespective of the sex assigned at birth.
Lastly, the FEHA protects individuals from retaliation for reporting or opposing workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation. This means that an employer cannot take retaliatory actions, including termination, against someone for citing discrimination or harassment violations or for filing a sexual orientation discrimination lawsuit.
How Do I Report My Employer for Sexual Orientation Discrimination?
Certainly. If an individual believes they have been discriminated against based on sexual orientation in California, they can take the following steps to bring legal action against their employer:
- File a Complaint with the CRD: Before initiating a lawsuit, the affected individual should file a complaint with the California Civil Rights Department (CRD), formerly known as the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH). This complaint should be submitted as a pre-complaint inquiry within three years of the last incident of discrimination, harassment, or retaliation. The complaint can be filed online, by phone, or using a form from the CRD website.
- Intake Interview: After submitting the pre-complaint inquiry, the CRD will initiate an intake interview to determine whether the complaint can be accepted for investigation. If the CRD decides not to pursue the complaint, the individual has the immediate right to sue the employer in court.
- Mediation: If the CRD accepts the complaint, they may offer mediation as an alternative dispute resolution method. Mediation involves a neutral mediator who helps both parties come to a mutually agreeable solution.
- Investigation: If the complaint isn’t resolved through mediation, the CRD will conduct an investigation to determine if there was a violation of California law. If a violation is found, the case will move to the CRD Legal Division.
- Right to Sue: If the CRD does not find a violation or decides not to pursue the claim, they will close the investigation, and the individual will have the immediate right to file a lawsuit against the employer. Before filing a lawsuit in civil court, the individual must obtain a “right to sue” notice from the CRD.
- Legal Representation: It’s advisable for the individual to seek legal counsel before proceeding to court. An attorney can guide them through the process, obtain the necessary “right to sue” notice, and represent them in court.
- Damages: If successful in court, the individual may be entitled to various damages, including back pay, benefits, pain and suffering, emotional distress, attorney’s fees, and potentially punitive damages.
It’s essential to remember that retaliation for reporting discrimination is also illegal under the FEHA. If an employer retaliates against an individual for reporting violations, the individual may also file a complaint for retaliation or wrongful termination.
At the Law Offices of Todd M. Friedman in Woodland Hills, we believe in equal employment opportunity and advancement based on merit, not sexual orientation. We have extensive experience standing up for the rights of workers nationwide and welcome the opportunity to make things right for you.
We will make sure you do not continue to bear the burden of discrimination and will fight aggressively for the compensation you deserve.
Being Discriminated Against For Being Gay Or Lesbian? Contact An Attorney.
The debate over equality in the workplace has been settled, and you are on the right side.
Contact us today for a free initial consultation with a nationwide sexual orientation discrimination lawyer who will fight for you.