Is LGBT Workplace Discrimination Illegal?

Workplace discrimination occurs when an employee is subject to a hostile work environment or other unfair treatment simply because they are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT). LGBT workplace discrimination is illegal in the state of New Jersey, however, federal laws governing LGBT workplace discrimination are limited. It is important for workers to understand the rights guaranteed to them under federal law, as well as state law before filing an employment discrimination claim.

Federal Laws Governing Employment Discrimination

Federal laws prohibit employment discrimination against employees who are members of a protected class. Discrimination may surface during recruiting, hiring, training, promoting, compensating, or terminating employees. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 defines the following protected classes:

  • Race
  • Color
  • Religion
  • Sex
  • National origin

Employees in these protected classes who experienced workplace discrimination can file claims with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Title VII does not specifically mention sexual orientation, which would include lesbian, gay, or bisexual workers. Nor does it mention transgender individuals or other forms of gender expression. Therefore, LGBT employees do not appear to be members of a protected class under the Civil Rights Act. However, in 2012, the EEOC ruled that discrimination based on sex also includes discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Congress has since drafted legislation that would clarify and expanded the definition of protected classes, but no law has yet been passed.

Expanded Protections in the State of New Jersey

In 1991, New Jersey added affectional or sexual orientation to its list of classes protected by the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD). Gender identity and gender expression were subsequently added in 2006. According to the NJLAD, gender identity and gender expression are defined as having or perceived as having a gender-related identity or expression, whether or not stereotypically associated with a person’s assigned sex at birth.

Employees may be eligible for compensation under the NJLAD and possibly federal law if they experienced workplace discrimination because they are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. Since state and federal laws are complex and may overlap, it is best to seek legal counsel from an experienced South Jersey employment lawyer before attempting to file a claim.

How to Recognize LGBT Workplace Discrimination

LGBT workplace discrimination can take on many forms, including the following:

  • You are forced to use a workplace restroom that is inconsistent with your gender identity
  • Your supervisor does nothing to stop coworkers from using insults and derogatory terms to describe your sexual orientation
  • You are fired when your supervisor discovers you are undergoing medical treatment for a gender change
  • You are told that you will be excluded from meetings or opportunities for a promotion because you have been seen afterhours in gay bars
  • You are disciplined for failing to conform to a dress code that enforces strict gender stereotypes
  • Your employer retaliates against you for reporting same-sex harassment

In the past, LGBT employees were often forced to hide their sexual orientation and gender identity to find a job, get a promotion, or earn a living without enduring harassment. As laws and social customs in the United States have evolved to recognize LGBT rights, employees are becoming more open about their sexual orientation and gender expression. This leaves LGBT employees vulnerable to harassment from coworkers and supervisors who may disagree with changes in the law. As a result, LGBT workplace discrimination and wrongful termination continue to occur.

South Jersey Workplace Discrimination Lawyers at The Law Offices of Leo B. Dubler, III, LLC Assist Those Suffering LGBT Workplace Discrimination

If you believe that your employer discriminated against you because you are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender, you should consider filing an LGBT workplace discrimination claim. The South Jersey workplace discrimination lawyers at The Law Offices of Leo B. Dubler, III, LLC are highly qualified and well prepared to defend your rights and help you file a claim. To schedule a free consultation, call us at 856-235-7075 today or fill out our online form. From our offices in Mount Laurel and Atlantic City, New Jersey, we advocate for LGBT workers throughout South Jersey, including Cherry Hill, Burlington County, and Camden County.

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