Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act (PHRA) to protect employees from unlawful employment discrimination. Neither act features a specific prohibition on sexual orientation discrimination. But both acts clearly outlaw employment discrimination based on sex. Furthermore, recent legal decisions have interpreted that the sex protected class includes sexual orientation and gender identity.
HKM Employment Attorneys in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, focuses on protecting employee rights across the United States. HKM Employment Attorneys ensure that all types of employers abide by the law when making employment decisions. If you have questions about sex discrimination in the workplace, contact us today to obtain legal assistance.
Definitions of Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity
The U.S. Equal Opportunity Employment Commission (EEOC) is a federal agency that administers anti-discrimination laws in the workplace. Aligning with the federal courts, the EEOC determined that unlawful employment discrimination includes adverse treatment based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
From an employment discrimination standpoint, sexual orientation refers to a person’s choice of romantic partner. Essentially, Title VII protects lesbian, gay, and bisexual individuals from sexual orientation-based employment discrimination. Gender identity refers to the internal and external perception of a person’s gender. Title VII protects transgender and gender-transitioning individuals as well as other gender variants from gender-based employment discrimination.
Examples of Unlawful Sexual Orientation Discrimination
As outlined by the EEOC, unlawful employment discrimination based on sexual orientation can include, but is not limited to:
- Declining to hire a potential employee based on transgender identity
- Terminating an employee because of a gender transition
- Preventing an employee from using the bathroom or restroom that corresponds to their gender identity
- Refusing to promote an employee based on their sexual orientation or gender identity
- Paying an employee less because of their sexual orientation or gender identity
- Refusing to administer benefits to an employee because of their sexual orientation or gender identity
- Harassing an employee based on their gender identity or sexual orientation
- Discriminating against or harassing an employee based on membership in multiple protected classes (e.g. sexual orientation and age or gender identity and disability).
Concerning the list above, it is crucial to note certain restrictions concerning unlawful harassment in the workplace. To qualify as workplace harassment, the abusive conduct must be ongoing and pervasive, resulting in a hostile work environment. One-time offenses and simple slights rarely rise to the level of workplace harassment. Consistently negative treatment based on an employee’s sexual orientation or gender identity can constitute a hostile work environment.
Stand Up Against Unlawful Sexual Orientation Discrimination
If a Pennsylvania employer discriminated against you based on your sexual orientation or gender identity, it can be especially constructive to sit down with a reputable labor and employment attorney. With established qualifications representing workers in sexual orientation discrimination disputes, HKM Employment Attorneys can help you stand up for your legally protected rights. If you need legal help with employment-related sexual orientation discrimination in Pennsylvania, contact us today for an initial consultation.