While many strides have been made to further LGBTQ rights, this does not mean the battle is over. Too many LGBTQ persons are discriminated against at work due to their sexual orientation. Is this legal?
Discrimination based on sexual orientation
Under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act and Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act, employers are prohibited from taking an adverse employment action against a worker or potential worker due to the worker’s sexual orientation. This includes layoffs, demotions, not hiring someone, not promoting someone, harassment and other forms of adverse employment actions based on the worker’s sexual orientation.
Exemptions to these protections
There are exemptions to the California Fair Employment and Housing Act and Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act. These include workers at religious institutes, workers of employers with less than five employees under California law and 15 employees under federal law. As you can see, California law provides LGBTQ workers with more protections than federal law.
Harassment due to sexual orientation
Harassment against a worker due to their sexual orientation is a specific form of illegal discrimination. To be considered illegal, the harassment must be unwanted and so pervasive that it keeps a worker from doing their job. Harassment prohibited under the law could come from supervisors, coworkers or even third parties such as customers.
Ultimately, it is important to understand that if you are discriminated at work based on your sexual orientation you have rights. You can file a state and/or federal claim with the appropriate agencies. Standing up for your rights is the first step in making sure they are respected.