Gender discrimination and race discrimination have been problems for a long time, but a relatively new entrant in the world of discrimination is sexual orientation discrimination. If employers or fellow employees treat a person unfairly based on sexual orientation, it can be considered sexual orientation discrimination. Regardless of what the reasons are, if there exists discrimination at a workplace for reasons other than performance or qualifications, then it is a form of discrimination. This is why the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has put in place rules to help against workplace discrimination.
Identifying Gender and Sexual Orientation Discrimination
As with other types of discrimination, identifying gender and sexual orientation discrimination can be tricky. Although there are no federal laws regarding gender and sexual orientation, specifically, it comes under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
A hostile work environment would be any situation where unwelcome conduct, in the form of speech or physical action, is pervasive enough to make you feel discriminated. It can also involve specific policies the employer practices against different employees. The following are some examples of both gender and sexual orientation-based discrimination.
- If male employees are given sick leave without question but at the same time female employees are not given pregnancy leave
- If a male or female employee gives preferential treatment, or promises favors to an employee, in exchange for sexual favors
- If a supervisor makes frequent, lewd comments regarding the employees’ gender and sexual orientation
- Giving preferential treatment in promotions and other bonuses based on gender and sexual orientation
- Consistently giving bad reviews for people of different genders and sexual orientation
An important side note to all this is the intent. For example, some co-workers and supervisors may not view their behavior as malicious and will defend themselves with the “I am just joking around” excuse. Nevertheless, even if their intent was not to discriminate against the victim, it can still create a hostile and unpleasant work atmosphere.
What to Do When Employment Discrimination Happens
If you have felt that you have been on the receiving end of gender or sexual orientation discrimination, the first thing to do is to refer to your employee’s handbook on discrimination. If the company you work for does not have one, then the next place to look for help regarding workplace discrimination is state laws. Some states do not have laws in place to deal with sex discrimination or sexual orientation discrimination. If this is the case, you may have to consider suing the party, based on your state’s tort laws.
Georgia has no statewide laws that explicitly prohibit discrimination of LGBTQ employees. However, the city of Atlanta has municipal protections against sexual orientation discrimination.
Talking to a Discrimination Attorney
In many cases, it will be a specific act, or the straw that breaks the camel’s back, that will lead people to find discrimination lawyers. When this happens, a discrimination attorney in Atlanta will guide you in the right direction. Practice areas like pregnancy discrimination, gender discrimination, sexual harassment, requires a highly experienced discrimination lawyer to get good legal advice. At HKM Employment Attorneys, our employment law experts can help you navigate any discrimination case.