4% of the workforce identifies as LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transsexual), according to the Williams Institute, and more than 160,000 LGBT people reside in Missouri. Yet, no state laws protect LGBT people from employment or housing discrimination. Many states have already adopted such measures, where LGBT people enjoy legal protection from employment discrimination along with protections based on an employee or applicant’s race, color, national origin, sex, disability, or age.
Types of Sexual Orientation Discrimination and Harassment in Missouri Workplaces
Whenever an employer makes an undesirable employment decision based on an employee’s sexual orientation, they have engaged in discrimination. These types of decisions include:
- Refusing to hire or recruit;
- Termination or demotion;
- Refusal to provide equal pay or promotion;
- Transferring to another department;
- Refusing to invest in job training or education;
- Refusing benefits such as healthcare, vacation, or sick days; and
- Refusing to give managerial positions.
Another type of workplace discrimination involves harassment. Harassment includes the following:
- Physical assault;
- Intimidation and threats,
- Making cruel jokes;
- Mockery or making fun of the victim;
- Making negative comments about LGBT people in general;
- Using foul or derogatory language or slurs;
- Exclusion; and
- Negative comments about the victim’s sexual orientation.
Employers are bound to their duty of creating and maintaining a hostility-free workplace. This means that even if the employer did not make jokes or harass the employee themselves, they can still be held liable if other employees created a hostile environment and the employer knew or should have known about the situation, and yet did nothing. If your work has suffered as a result of sexual orientation discrimination, you have been working in a hostile environment.
Widespread Sexual Orientation Discrimination Across Missouri
A 2006 survey of Kansas City LGBT people found that in the previous three years:
- 13% of LGBT respondents had experienced hate crimes;
- 1% of LGBT respondents had experienced workplace discrimination; and
- 2%t of LGBT respondents had experienced housing discrimination.
Sexual orientation discrimination dominates many Missouri workplaces, and LGBT employees deserve to be treated with dignity and equality, just as any other employee does. While Missouri still has no state laws that protect LGBT employees, if you work closely with an experienced employment attorney, there may still be hope. In 2017, the Missouri Court of Appeals ruled that -the sexual orientation discrimination that a Kansas City employee had been facing was a type of sex discrimination, according to the Kansas City Star. In a way, this has blown the doors open for similar lawsuits in the state.
Sex Orientation Discrimination in St. Louis Workplaces
Hostile work environments cause severe stress, self-doubt, anxiety, and of course can put an employee in actual physical danger. Sexual orientation discrimination also limits the employee’s potential for promotion and fair pay, and therefore the employer should be held liable for that mistreatment. Please feel free to call the HKM Employment Attorneys LLP as soon as you can.