Employment Law Firm in California
It can be stressful and emotionally taxing when an employee has to go to work and does not know whether their sexual orientation will negatively influence their ability to successfully complete their work or simply get through the day. Sexual orientation discrimination is particularly egregious because it can easily create a horrific work environment for its victims.
An employee who feels they have no choice but to hide their sexual orientation and who suffers daily harassment because they are afraid of retaliation or termination will simply not perform at his or her best.
If you were the victim of sexual orientation discrimination in the workplace you may be entitled to damages for:
According to California law — and specifically the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) — discrimination in the workplace that is based on an employee’s sexual orientation is unlawful. In short, it is against the law for any employer to discriminate against any employee simply because of his or her sexual orientation. This includes heterosexuality, homosexuality, and bisexuality.
Further, (FEHA) extends protections to prohibit discrimination that is based on an employee’s gender related appearance, gender expression, or gender related behavior. These protections apply whether or not an individual’s behavior is outside the mainstream or is associated with an individual’s assigned sex at birth.
Instances of sexual orientation discrimination can start off in a seemingly innocent fashion. Let’s consider an example. Say that an employer asks an employee about his or her relationship status, which is a delicate question to ask in the first place.
When the employer learns that the employee is married or is involved with a same sex partner, the employer then makes a comment about same sex marriage that is meant to be “humorous”, but which is actually offensive to the employee. Such jokes and comments can be hurtful, and they can certainly prove an employer is biased against people of a certain sexual orientation.
Another example is when an employer uses an employee’s sexual orientation as a way of teasing or alienating them. Regardless of an employee’s qualifications and experience, an employer may choose to use a person’s sexual orientation in order to cast a doubt about their capacity to do their job, which is unlawful.
Discrimination based on someone’s sexual orientation may be expressed under a “playful” or “humorous” tone, but it can have a negative impact on an employee’s ability to perform his or her job related tasks, as well as making an employee feel unsafe while in the workplace.
Even so, there signs that an employer is discriminating against an employee because of his or her sexual orientation, such as:
As mentioned, discrimination based on someone’s sexual orientation may be expressed under a “playful” or “humorous” tone, but it can have a negative impact on an employee’s ability to perform his or her job related tasks, as well as making an employee feel unsafe while in the workplace.
You should document your case and be as diligent as possible. Gather as much evidence as you can, such as documents, emails, text messages, or voicemails which show that you were discriminated against because of your sexual orientation.
Blatant examples of sexual orientation discrimination — such as explict emails or text messages — will not always be available. However, you can still prove sexual orientation discrimination if you can demonstrate a pattern of behaviors that, when considered as a whole, are shown to adversely affect the terms or privileges of an employee.
In general, there is a process that must be followed when dealing with sexual orientation discrimination. Speaking with your employer is the first step. If speaking to your employer doesn’t resolve the issue, your next step is to file a charge with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing.
Once the administrative agency has completed its investigation, you will typically receive a right to sue letter. At this point, you are free to pursue a legal claim in court. If you have not retained the services of an experienced sexual orientation discrimination attorney, now is the time to do so.
In order for an employee to bring a sexual orientation discrimination claim in California, he or she must prove that:
Adverse employment actions can include definitive actions, such as termination or demotion. But even adverse employment actions that indicate a pattern of behaviors that, when considered as a whole, are shown to adversely affect the terms or privileges of an employee can be considered as adverse employment actions.
What is an adverse employment action? These are actions that are likely to impair an otherwise reasonable employee’s job performance or opportunities for advancement or promotion in their chosen career path. However, actions that do little more than upset an employee will not count as instances of adverse employment action.
An example of a definitive action would be an employer who discovers an employee is gay and immediately fires him or her. However, as mentioned, such actions do not need to reach this level.
And finally, a substantial motivating reason is the real reason that an applicable adverse employment action was taken in the first place. This could be discriminatory in nature, but not necessarily.
Employees in the state of California cannot be retaliated against for reporting sexual orientation discrimination in the workplace. This is considered wrongful termination, which is a violation of FEHA rules and an employee may be entitled to file a lawsuit for wrongful termination.
FEHA offers protections for any employees who were retaliated against for:
The best course of action is to secure legal advice immediately upon determining that unfair treatment has or is occurring at your workplace. The skilled sexual orientation discrimination lawyers at West Coast Employment Lawyers will do everything possible to construct effective arguments to win your case. Our attorneys are committed to helping victims of sexual orientation discrimination receive full vindication, fair compensation, and the peace of mind they deserve.
If you or a loved one has been wrongfully discriminated against or terminated at work due to their sexual orientation, immediately contact West Coast Employment Lawyers for a free, no-obligation consultation with a sexual orientation discrimination lawyer at our firm. You can reach our legal team 24/7 by calling 1-800-247-9235 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.