Workplace Rights

Weekly (6/6/22)

Topic of the Week  Understanding Sexual Orientation Discrimination

Your sexual orientation should never impact your job.

Sexual orientation discrimination has been part of the workplace in America for decades, and while federal, state and local laws, as well as increased social awareness have improved the situation dramatically, many people who are not heterosexual still face obstacles at work related to being gay, bisexual, asexual, or pansexual. It is important for employees to have the right information about what constitutes discrimination based on sexual orientation, what constitutes harassment, and how sexual orientation discrimination can tie in with other prohibited forms of discrimination like, sex, disability, gender identity, and marital status.

Sexual orientation discrimination can affect your job status, your working environment, your health benefits and a host of other issues in the workplace. Learn how you are protected here.

1. What is sexual orientation discrimination?

Sexual orientation discrimination means treating someone differently solely because of his or her real or perceived sexual orientation: lesbian, gay (homosexual), bisexual, asexual, pansexual, or straight (heterosexual). This means that discrimination may occur because of others' perception of someone's orientation, whether that perception is correct or not. It may also occur based on an individual's association with someone of a different sexual orientation. Someone who is discriminated against on the basis of sexual orientation may also be discriminated against or harassed on the basis of sexgender identitydisability (such as actual or perceived HIV status) or marital status.

2. Can my employer justify their discrimination on religious grounds?

In states where sexual orientation discrimination is explicitly prohibited, if you work for a non-religious employer, your employer may find it difficult to maintain a legitimate business justification for policies or practices which discriminate against employees based on sexual orientation. The personal religious beliefs of a particular supervisor would rarely, if ever, be a legitimate basis for discrimination in this situation, especially if other company employees had been treated differently.

Most employees of religious organizations are also still protected by federal, state and local non-discrimination laws that prohibit discrimination based on sex, sexual orientation or gender identity, although in some states, religious employers, like churches and private religious schools are exempted from anti-discrimination laws. If you work for a religious organization and perform religious duties as part of your job, your employer may not be subject to non-discrimination laws. Some places of worship and religiously-affiliated institutions are entitled to hire employees who share the religious beliefs of the organization.

Thought of the Week

"Adults should be able to earn a living and pursue a vocation knowing that they will not be fired, demoted, or mistreated because of whom they go home to or because how they dress does not conform to sex-based stereotypes."

–President Joe Biden

Weekly Comic by Jerry King

Weekly Comic by Jerry King

Blog of the Week

Top Five News Headlines

    List of the Week

    from Williams Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles, School of Law

    Did you know:

    • 1 in 4 (25.9 percent) of LGBTQ+ employees have experienced sexual harassment at work
    • 1 in 5 (20.8 percent) of LGBTQ+ reported physical harassment on the job
    • 29 percent of LGBTQ+ believe they have been denied a job at some point because of their identity

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