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LGBTQIA+ Discrimination in the Workplace

Feb 22, 2022 | Seattle Pride

Steps LGBTQIA+ Workers Can Take If They Are Experiencing Discrimination in the Workplace

Guest Blog Post by Eric Minghella

Often LGBTQIA+ people who are experiencing discrimination at their workplace just put up with it or try to find a new job because they don’t realize that LGBTQIA+ people are protected by the Federal Civil Rights Act just like other workers. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act says that employers can’t discriminate based on someone’s race, color, sex, gender, orientation, religion, or where they were born. The Supreme Court rules that Civil Rights Act protections apply to LGBTQIA+ people too.

That means if you’re being discriminated against or harassed at work because you are LGBTQIA+ you can file a complaint against your employer. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission investigates all claims of harassment or discrimination at work. The EEOC is a federal agency with jurisdiction over all states. It also has a work share agreement with 44 states. If you live in one of those 44 states and file a complaint against your employer the state will automatically receive a copy of that complaint so that the state labor board can investigate that employer too.

Examples Of Workplace Discrimination

Some of the common types of discrimination experienced by LGBTQIA+ people are:

  • Not Being Promoted

If you’re not promoted to a job you have earned because you are LGBTQIA+ that’s discrimination.

  • Derogatory comments or slurs

Any slurs against LGBTQIA+ people, derogatory comments, comments that enforce stereotypes, or “jokes” about LGBTQIA+ people are discrimination. They’re never “just jokes” no matter what your boss or coworkers say. They are discrimination.

  • Asking you what your orientation is

Your gender and orientation are no one’s business. Asking about either one is discrimination.

  • Misgendering you on purpose

After you have made your pronouns clear and asked to be referred to by those pronouns if your coworkers or boss routinely use the wrong pronouns on purpose that’s discrimination. Using the wrong pronouns is a common discrimination tactic.

  • Dress Code Restrictions

Employers can’t use dress code restrictions to enforce gender rules, like requiring that some employees wear skirts and pantyhose or high heels. Dress codes are often weaponized against people of color and LGTBQ+ people and that’s discrimination.

Filing A Workplace Discrimination Claim

If you’re experiencing discrimination at work make sure that you are keeping a detailed list of what is happening, when it happens, and who does it. Take that list to your boss and try to get your boss to stop the discrimination. If your boss doesn’t take any action or tells you to wait while they figure it out go straight to the EEOC’s website and file a complaint. It’s easy to file a complaint on the EEOC’s website.

Penalties For Discrimination

If your employer violated the Civil Rights Act that’s a serious offense. Fines of more than $10,000 can be charged for every incident of discrimination. Your employer could be have to face criminal charges and penalties too. You could receive a promotion if you were denied one, or you may receive money for back wages, pain and suffering, or mental anguish.

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