Sexual Orientation and General Identity Discrimination

In recent years great strides have been made to legally protect the LGBTQ community in an effort to extend equality to all. However, not all workplaces have kept up with the pace of legislation and court rulings, and, unfortunately, discrimination based on sexual orientation and/or gender identity still occurs in the workplace. Additionally, because legal protections historically have not been in place for the LGBTQ community, some community members may not know that they are protected. 

Are you the victim of employment discrimination based on your sexual orientation or gender identity?  Cantrell Astbury Kranz, also known as Premier Litigators, handles high-value, high-impact discrimination, harassment, and retaliation matters (also known as “wrongful termination”) in California, Florida, Michigan, Georgia, and Illinois.  For a free consultation with one of our LGBTQ discrimination attorneys about your gender identity or sexual orientation discrimination case, contact us at 877-858-6868 or coordinator@premierlitigators.com.

Below is an overview of: (i) the credentials of the attorneys in our employment law practice group; (ii) an overview of recent legal developments relating to sexual orientation and gender identity workplace laws; and (iii) frequently asked questions relating to sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination. 

SEXUAL ORIENTATION AND GENDER IDENTITY DISCRIMINATION LAWS

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VII”) is a federal law that precludes employment discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex and national origin. Title VII applies to job applicants, current employees, and former employees of covered employers that have 15 or more employees. Title VII protects employees regardless of citizenship or immigration status in every state, the District of Columbia, and the United States territories. Title VII does not apply to individuals that are independent contractors. Whether someone is an independent contractor is a fact-specific inquiry that can be sorted through with an attorney.

Though Title VII was enacted nearly half a century ago, it was only interpreted to prohibit employment discrimination against an individual on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity in the summer of 2020 through the Supreme Court of the United States’ landmark decision in the case Bostock v. Clayton County, 140 S. Ct. 1731 (2020).

In Bostock the Supreme Court addressed a trio of cases involving alleged discrimination against LGBTQ workers—Gerald Bostock, Donald Zarda, and Aimee Stephens. Mr. Bostock, a child welfare services coordinator was terminated after his employer learned he joined a gay softball league; Mr. Zarda, a skydiving instructor, was terminated upon his employer learning he was gay; and Ms. Stephens was terminated after her employer learned about her upcoming transition. The Supreme Court ultimately held that employment discrimination based on sexual orientation, in the cases of Mr. Bostock and Mr. Zarda, or transgender status, in the case of Ms. Stephens, is discrimination “because of sex.” It, therefore, concluded that such discrimination is unlawful under Title VII. 

Thus, even in the absence of a specific state law protecting the LGBTQ community from workplace discrimination, the law of the land is that employers covered by Title VII cannot legally take an employee’s sexual orientation or transgender status into account when making employment-related decisions. 

WHY HIRE PREMIER LITIGATORS

The four most important characteristics in any gender identity or sexual orientation discrimination, harassment, or retaliation attorney are:

  1. Educational background: Premier Litigators’ attorneys graduated from a top law school or at the very top of their law school class. 
  2. Subject matter expertise:  At Premier Litigators, counsel have spent a large amount of time handling employment discrimination, harassment, and retaliation cases. This has led to the development of a broad and deep knowledge of sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination, harassment, and retaliation law and the factors necessary to win these cases. 
  3. Past results:  Premier Litigators’ attorneys have a proven track record of high-value results. We cannot promise similar results in your matter, but we can promise that your case will be handled with the same focus and dedication that led to these high-value results.   
  4. Trial Experience:  If your attorney has a reputation for always settling, why would the other side ever make a fair settlement offer?  After all, they know your attorney will accept their unfair offer to settle eventually.  Ask any attorney you are considering about their prior trial experience.  You’ll be surprised how many have rarely, if ever, tried a case before. Can you trust your case to somebody who’s still learning how to try a case?    

To get fair value for your case, your attorney must be ready, willing, and able to go to trial.  At Premier Litigators, we prepare your case for trial from the day we are hired.  We gather as much evidence as possible and interview critical witnesses before filing your case.  That way, we are prepared to try your case before your former employer even knows it exists and can negotiate from a position of strength, not weakness. 

Are you the victim of gender identity or sexual orientation discrimination, harassment, or retaliation?  At Premier Litigators, our sexual orientation and gender identity employment lawyers handle high-value, high-impact discrimination, harassment, and retaliation matters (also known as “wrongful termination”) in California, Florida, Michigan, Georgia, and Illinois.  For a free consultation with one of our attorneys about your sexual orientation and/or gender identity discrimination case, contact us at 877-858-6868 or coordinator@premierlitigators.com.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Private employers, state and local government employers, federal government employers, employment agencies, and labor unions with 15 or more employees are covered by Title VII.  

Title VII allows these types of organizations to hire and employ people who share their own religion, and they are allowed to limit hiring in this way. Courts and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission consider and apply any religious defense to a discrimination claim on a case-by-case basis. 

Employers cannot discriminate against individuals based on sexual orientation or gender identity in the following areas:

  • Hiring
  • Promotions
  • Demotions
  • Discipline
  • Work assignments
  • Pay, overtime, or other compensation
  • Firing
  • Benefits
  • Assignments
  • Training

Even where an employee is not fired, discrimination may be unlawful. Where there is severe or pervasive harassment based on an employee’s sexual orientation or gender discrimination, this conduct would be considered discrimination. Such incidents may, along with other conduct, include the intentional and repeated use of the wrong name or pronouns to refer to a transgender employee. Lusardi v. Dep’t of the Army, EEOC Appeal No. 0120133395 (Apr. 1, 2015).

Additionally, if an employee reports harassment, whether by a coworker or even by a customer or client, the employer is required to take steps to stop this behavior and prevent it from happening again. This means that an employer’s discrimination action cannot be justified by customer or client preference.

Yes. Title VII prohibits harassment and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, regardless of what the orientation or identity is.

Take note of your timeline and decide on your next course of action. You may decide to work it out with your employer or decide to file a charge of discrimination with the EEOC, who will conduct an investigation to determine if laws have been violated. Keep in mind, unless altered by state or local law, you have 180 days to file a lawsuit from the date of the violation. This is the first step that must be taken in order to bring a lawsuit. 

For additional information about filing a charge, please see  https://www.eeoc.gov/how-file-charge-employment-discrimination

No. If the reason for the termination was the charge, that would be unlawful retaliation. For more on retaliation, see https://www.eeoc.gov/laws/guidance/enforcement-guidance-retaliation-and-related-issues.

Are you the victim of sexual orientation or gender identity discrimination, harassment, or retaliation?  Premier Litigators handles high-value, high-impact sexual orientation and/or gender identity discrimination, harassment, and retaliation matters (also known as “wrongful termination”) in California, Florida, Michigan, Georgia, and Illinois.  For a free consultation with one of our LBGT discrimination lawyers about your sexual orientation or gender identity discrimination case, contact us at 877-858-6868 or coordinator@premierlitigators.com.

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