Los Angeles Sexual Orientation Discrimination in the Workplace

Here in Los Angeles, California, the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) provides legal protections for employees and prohibits employers from discriminating against employees because of their sexual orientation, religious creed, race, color, national origin, physical or mental disability, marital, status, sex, age or mental condition. Sexual orientation encompasses bisexuality, heterosexuality and homosexuality. Important terms associated with sexual orientation include “sex.” which encompasses one’s status or identification with a particular gender. “Gender” includes a person’s gender/sexual identity and gender expression. Also related is the term “gender expression,” which relates to a person’s gender-related behavior and appearance regardless of whether this expression is or is not stereotypically associated with one’s assigned sex at birth.

Discrimination based on sexual orientation can arise in a broad assortment of employment-related issues and contexts. Such situations that give rise to sexual orientation discrimination and harassment because of an employee or job applicant’s actual or perceived sexual orientation include:

  • Considering sexual orientation in the hiring and firing process;
  • Basing the provision of employment benefits on an employee’s sexual orientation;
  • Requiring employees to dress in clothing and garb typically associated with the gender stereotypes of that employee’s assigned sex at birth;
  • Creating conflicts or a lack of accommodation for work facilities such as restrooms because of sexual orientation; and
  • Basing employment raises or promotions on an employee’s sexual orientation.

Bringing Sexual Orientation Discrimination Claims in LA

The Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) is the California state agency that has the duty of hearing complaints about sexual orientation discrimination, as well as all other forms of discrimination in the workplace. In order to have your employment sexual orientation discrimination claim heard, you will need to file a complaint with the DFEH within a year from the day that the discriminatory act or conduct took place. However, for employees under the age of 18, sexual orientation discrimination complaints should be filed no later than a year after the employee’s 18th birthday.

Furthermore, starting on September 1, 2014, there will be a new complaint process for filing FEHA employment discrimination complaints. This new process will require victims to file a Pre-Complaint Inquiry to the Department if a victim would like the DFEH to investigate any allegations of sexual orientation discrimination, retaliation or harassment in the workplace. Following the filing of a Pre-Complaint Inquiry, the DFEH will conduct an intake interview process in order to determine whether the discrimination complaint will be accepted by the DFEH for investigation.

In Los Angeles, a successful employment sexual orientation discrimination claim will be able to prove the following elements:

  • The accused employer employs five or more employees or is an agent acting on behalf of an employer;
  • The employee is covered under the FEHA;
  • The employee-employer relationship is covered under the FEHA;
  • The employer took an unlawful action against the employee ie. discrimination, harassment or retaliation;
  • The employee’s protected status ie. sexual orientation, was the motivating factor underlying the unlawful action;
  • The employee was harmed; and
  • The unlawful action was a substantial factor in the resulting employee harm.

Los Angeles, California Employment Law Attorneys: Providing Exceptional Legal Assistance

Sexual orientation is a hot topic issue in our society. Contact the legal professionals at HKM Employment Attorneys LLP in Los Angeles, CA if you either feel you have been discriminated in the workplace because of your sexual orientation, or if you are an employer who has received a sexual orientation discrimination complaint from the DFEH.