At Tand & Associates we work on both sides of the aisle to combat sexual orientation discrimination, assisting employees who suffer the indignity and injustice of such discrimination and helping employers to establish regulations to prevent it from occurring in the first place.
Any gay or bisexual person past the age of puberty has probably experienced some form of discrimination based on sexual orientation. Tragic as this is, hopefully attitudes are changing along with legislation. In spite of the fact that under this country’s present administration, there is a powerful reactionary backlash, if you are discriminated against because of your sexual orientation now, you have many more options than you did 50 years ago. During the past several decades, the United States, along with many other nations, has become more accepting of differences in sexual orientations.
With this acceptance, has come legal protection, emboldening what had been an intimidated population. As a result, more and more people have come “out of the closet,” feeling comfortable acknowledging their true identities. The good news is that as more people identify themselves as homosexual or bisexual, the more the general public becomes aware that they (we) all have connections to individuals of varying sexual orientations and that a significant percentage of the population is affected by this type of discrimination. Once we realize that some of our friends, family members, coworkers, neighbors, customers, doctors, pharmacists, hairstylists, postal workers, and police are gay, we become less able to shun them or discriminate against them. This eye-opening recognition is aided by the fact that a great many singers, actors, politicians, athletes and other celebrities have openly joined the ranks of the LGBT community.
How does sexual orientation discrimination manifest itself in the workplace?
Sexual orientation discrimination can be blatant or subtle, focused or diffuse. While always difficult to confront, when such discrimination is deeply rooted and widespread throughout a company, or even an industry, it can seem impossible to eliminate. This is when you need the services of a capable employment attorney who has the know-how and skill to assist you in obtaining the just treatment you deserve. At Tand & Associates, our legal team is experienced in cases involving discrimination in the workplace and prepared to compile evidence, collect witnesses, and negotiate a reasonable settlement in your favor. If necessary, we are also fully prepared to fight for your rights in a court of law.
You should be aware that such discrimination can take place even if the victim is actually heterosexual and targeted because of a mistaken perception of his or her sexual orientation. Though rare, you can be discriminated against for your heterosexual orientation if you work for a company mainly comprised of gays and/or lesbians. Also, bear in mind that your harasser may be male or female, and may play any role in the company: supervisor, CEO, coworker, customer, or client.
Sexual orientation discrimination in the workplace includes any and all of the following:
- Adverse treatment in terms of hire, promotion, discipline, benefits or bonuses
- Taunting, mimicking of speech or mannerisms, hostile comments, offensive pictures
- Sexual jokes, requests for dates or sexual favors, unwanted touching, leering
- Physical or sexual assault, intimidation, rape
Whether harassment is directed at you particularly, or general remarks or slurs are used in your presence, you have every right to complain to your abusers, your supervisor, and/or Human Resources. You not only have a right to be heard, but entitled to have the situation remedied quickly. If the toxic atmosphere of your workplace is not addressed and eliminated, you need to consult with our attorneys who will compile evidence, locate witnesses, and negotiate directly with your employer. If your employer does not settle in a reasonable manner, our attorneys are fully prepared to take your case to court and fight vigorously for your rights.
Laws Designed to Protect Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination in the Workplace
Federal laws against workplace discrimination are regulated by The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), a federal agency.
On the Federal Level
Unfortunately, while federal laws protect individuals against many types of workplace discrimination, including discrimination on the basis of gender, there is no federal law that specifically outlaws workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in the private sector. This is particularly odd because federal employees are protected from such discrimination.
On State and Local Levels
Almost half of the states in the country prohibit sexual orientation discrimination in both government and private sector jobs. To our credit, New York is one of these states. Anti-discrimination laws in New York are enforced by the Division of Human Rights. In states that have not enacted anti-discrimination laws to protect those who are not solely heterosexual, many cities and counties have such ordinances, offering the people who live or work within their boundaries the rights they are entitled to. In areas not amenable to protecting the civil rights of their gay and lesbian citizens, Lambda, a national organization committed to achieving full recognition of the civil rights of LGBT individuals, may be helpful.
Company Policies May Offer Protection
Some forward-looking companies have adopted policies of their own prohibiting various types of discrimination, including bias based on sexual orientation. If you are lucky enough to work for such a company, your employee handbook or employee contract may not only prohibit such deplorable conduct, but instruct you on how to report it most effectively. If you are the head of a company and are concerned about being in compliance with pertinent laws, Tand & Associates can help you efficiently set up appropriate in-house regulations and work them into your contracts and employee handbook.
Laws Don’t Always Prevent Wrongdoing
We all know that even where proper anti-discrimination laws are in effect, not everyone obeys the law. As experienced employment attorneys, we can clarify your options, help you to win back benefits, bonuses, or promotions you were denied because of your sexual orientation, or even to get your job back if you were wrongfully terminated. We may, depending on the circumstances, also be able to obtain compensation for the humiliation or other emotional distress you have suffered. In situations that warrant it, we may also be able to confront your employer with evidence of invasion of privacy, defamation, or even assault that has taken place on the premises. If you are being discriminated against because of your sexual orientation, get legal support you can depend on by calling Tand & Associates.