Frequently Asked Questions About Sexual Orientation Discrimination
Everyone deserves to work without the fear of discrimination. At The Spitz Law Firm, LLC, we understand the difficulties many face with these issues. Here are some of the main questions we see frequently around sexual orientation discrimination:
What States Protect All Employees From LGBT/LGBTQ Discrimination? Can I Sue My Employer For Discriminating Against Me Because I’m A Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender or Queer Person?
Sexual Orientation Discrimination Attorney: Not all states ban LGBT/LGBTQ discrimination in employment. Unfortunately, Ohio is one of those states that does not make it illegal for private employers to discriminate against LGBT workers. Sexual orientation and gender identity are protected by statute in California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont, and Washington. Additionally, New York, New Hampshire and Wisconsin have laws that outlaw sexual orientation discrimination, but those laws do not offer any protection to transgender employees or based on gender identity.
Are There Any Laws In Ohio That Make Employment Discrimination Against LGBT/LGBTQ Workers Illegal? Can My Employer Terminate Me Because He Found Out That I Married Another Man And My Employer Doesn’t Believe In Gay Marriage?
Sexual Orientation Discrimination Attorney: Since January 21, 2011, via executive order signed by Governor John Kasich, the State of Ohio prohibits discrimination against its employees and applicants for employment based on sexual orientation. However, neither this executive order nor any other law protects the State of Ohio employees from discrimination based on gender identity or being transgender.There are 29 cities and counties in Ohio that have passed anti-discrimination ordinances. All 12 of these ordinances prohibit sexual orientation discrimination by governmental employers only, including Cuyahoga County, Cuyahoga Falls, Franklin County, Gahanna, Hamilton, Hamilton County, Laura, Lima, Lucas County, Montgomery County, Summit County, and Wood County.
Additionally, 17 of these employment discrimination ordinances that make it illegal for any employer in that community to discrimination based on an employee being LGB or LGBT, including Akron, Athens, Bowling Green, Canton, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Cleveland Heights, Columbus, Dayton, East Cleveland, Lakewood, North Olmsted, Oberlin, Oxford, Shaker Heights, Toledo, and Yellow Springs. The problem with the municipal ordinances is that they do not provide any substantive rights to the employee to sue the employer for a violation. Violation of these ordinances could essentially result in a citation with a fine that is equivalent to a speeding ticket, at best.
Are There Any Federal Laws That Protect LGBT/LGBTQ Workers From Discrimination By Private, Non-Government Employers? What Should I Do If I Was Fired Today When My Boss Found Out That I Am A Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender or Queer Person?
Sexual Orientation Discrimination Attorney: Since the mid-1960s, federal contractors and subcontractors have been prohibited from engaging in discriminatory employment practices based on an individual’s race, gender, national origin, religion, or age. Executive Order 13672, signed by President Obama over the summer, adds gender identity and sexual orientation to the list of protected characteristics. President Obama’s Executive Order 13672 amends Executive Order 11246, signed by Lyndon Johnson in 1965, which “prohibits federal contractors and federally assisted construction contractors and subcontractors, who do over $10,000 in Government business in one year from discriminating in employment decisions on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.” Executive Order 13672 is the first federal action explicitly prohibiting LGBT discrimination in the private sector and is an important step in ending LGBT discrimination. Recently, the United States Department of Labor (“DOL”) published its final rule implementing Executive Order 13672. The final rule was effective starting on April 8, 2015, and applies to contractors and subcontractors who enter into or modify, any contracts with the federal government after that date. To comply with Executive Order 13672, all federal contractors and subcontractors must take affirmative action ensuring that their job applicants and employees are not discriminated against because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
Executive Order 13672 further requires that federal government contractors and subcontractors include language in their contracts reflecting the fact that sexual orientation and gender identity are now protected classes for the purpose of employment discrimination. Federal contractors and subcontractors must also add similar language in any job advertisements and notices to third-parties. In short, it will soon be as illegal for a federal contractor to discriminate against an LGBT individual as it would be to discriminate against an individual based on race, religion, or any other protected class.
Do I Have Different Rights If I Am Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender or Queer And Work For The Federal Government? Is Sexual Orientation A Protected Class?
Sexual Orientation Discrimination Attorney: In 1998, President Clinton amended Richard Nixon’s Executive Order 11478, which prohibited discrimination within the federal civil service based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, handicap, and age. President Clinton expanded the list of protected classes to include sexual orientation. President Obama’s executive order also amends Executive Order 11478 to add gender identity to that list. Federal civil service includes civilian employees of the armed forces and Postal Service.
Can I Make A Claim Of Sexual Harassment Against My Boss Or Manager Of The Same Gender?
Sexual Orientation Discrimination Attorney: Title VII prohibits employment discrimination based on sex, including sexual harassment. Same-sex harassment is also illegal under Title VII. Sexual harassment can occur when a boss, manager, or supervisor offers to trade job benefits or job security for sexual favors – such as a promotion for blowjobs or not being fired as long as you are having sex with him or her. Employment lawyers call this quid pro quo sexual harassment.
Another form of sexual harassment is hostile work environment sexual harassment. While hostile work environment claims cannot be based on one or two stray remarks, courts in Ohio will weigh the frequency and severity of remarks about your physical appearance and/or genitalia; comments or discussions about sex; improper touching, especially touching of a sexual nature; sending, showing or sharing naked or sexually explicit pictures, stories, or jokes; and other similar conduct. (See Same-Sex Sexual Harassment – Less Common, But Just As Illegal; Top Sex Harassment Lawyer Reply: Am I Protected From Homosexual Harassment At Work?; and Best Gender Discrimination Attorney Answers: Can A Man Sue His Male Boss For Sexual Harassment?.
Is There Any Help Coming For Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, And Queer Employees? Is there any help in sight to stop employment discrimination against LGBT/LGBTQ workers?
Sexual Orientation Discrimination Attorney: Since 1994, there have various attempts to pass federal laws that make it unlawful for employers to discriminate against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender employees. The most recent effort was in 2013 when the Senate passed the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA). As passed by the U.S. Senate, ENDA would have finally prohibited discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity in the workplace, for both public and private employers. Although, ENDA would have excluded employers with less than 15 employees, and contains an exemption for certain religious employers. While still better than no protection, Title VII does not allow smaller employers to refuse to hire Black, Muslims, or Hispanic. Nonetheless, ENDA was not passed by Congress and thus, is not law. But, recently, there has been some talk that Democrats in Congress would be introducing the Equality Act, which would not only give LGBT/LGBTQ Americans workplace protection, but afford them the same protections as other protected classes in housing, public accommodation, and education.
DISCLAIMER: These answers do not constitute legal advice or guidance.