Hostile Work Environment—Sexual Orientation Discrimination

Unfortunately in many parts of our country, discrimination based on sexual orientation is completely legal. Oregon is ahead of many states in that our state has made workplace discrimination against people based on sexual orientation unlawful in its anti-discrimination law, Oregon Revised Statute 659A.030. Unfortunately, the Oregon anti-discrimination law does not specifically speak to hostile work environment claims. Instead, those sorts of discrimination claims are governed by a federal law, the Civil Rights Act of 1964. And unfortunately, that law does not protect people from sexual orientation discrimination. However, this could change at any point. And this does not mean that no Oregon workers are safe from hostile work environment sexual orientation discrimination.

Public Employees Have More Protections

While the statute that governs all Oregon employees does not speak to sexual orientation harassment claims, administrative law does. One example is a Department of Administrative Services Statewide Policy that went into effect in 2008. This policy prohibits workplace harassment based on both a person’s sexual orientation and based on his or her perceived sexual orientation. It also protects people from discrimination based on gender identity. The remedies that an employee can receive for harassment under this sort of policy are not the same as the remedies someone could receive in court for a Civil Rights Act claim, but they are a step in the right direction. And pursuing a complaint under this sort of policy can sometimes result in the harassed party getting the justice he or she is seeking.

Possibility of Local Remedies

As understanding of LGBT issues becomes more widespread, more communities are taking steps to fight discrimination. While state and federal governments have not yet specifically made this type of discrimination unlawful, it is possible that individual municipalities could have. If you have been a victim of this sort of harassment, it would be worthwhile speak with an attorney about your specific city’s municipal code to see if it grants you any further protections or remedies under the law.

Possibility of Contract Remedies

While most employees are at-will, some included union employees have employment contracts in place. These contracts often deal with the rights of an employee, including his or her right to a harassment-free work environment. If your contract guarantees you such a work environment and you are being harassed despite that guarantee, you may have a claim for a breach of contract.

HKM Employment Attorneys LLP Can Help You Today

Sexual orientation discrimination law is constantly changing. If you are considering fighting back against discrimination you have faced, it will be much easier to do with a highly experienced lawyer from HKM Employment Attorneys LLP. Employment law is what we do. We can be reached at (503) 398-1130 online through our simple online form. While we are outraged that you have had to face harassment, we are excited to speak with you and see if there is anything we can do to help.