Employers cannot discriminate against their employees solely because of their sexual orientation or gender identity (SOGI). Complaints by employees that they have been harassed or faced verbal or physical abuse, or have been refused a job, overtime or promotion are typical examples of illegal SOGI discrimination at work.
Employees who cannot get their employer to stop SOGI discrimination have the right to take their complaint to state and federal agencies that specifically investigate complaints that anti-discrimination legislation has been breached.
Reporting SOGI Discrimination at Work
It is advisable to take your complaint of SOGI discrimination first to your workplace HR department or to your employer before approaching a government agency. It is advisable to keep any correspondence and responses you have which can provide evidence that you have made the effort to resolve you complaint. Things like letters, text messages, e-mails, photos of abusive messages and recordings of abusive or demeaning cell phone calls may be useful if you don’t get any satisfactory response from your employer.
Reporting SOGI Discrimination to the EEOC
If the approach to your employer is unsuccessful, you can file a complaint of SOGI discrimination with the main federal anti-discrimination watchdog, the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission (EEOC). The EEOC deals specifically with complaints of discrimination by employees in workplaces with 15 or more workers. If you work in a smaller workplace, you are best advised to file your complaint with the equivalent state agency.
The EEOC will expect you to provide evidence of your discrimination and an attempt by you to resolve it with your employer. You can file a complaint of discrimination online, by phone or in person at an EEOC office.
Reporting SOGI Discrimination to Your State
Nearly every state in the country has legislation which makes it illegal to discriminate against an employee because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. The state laws tend to be very similar to the federal laws but you may find that it is easier to file a complaint of SOGI discrimination against your employer with the state agency such as a civil rights or labor department if you work in a smaller workplace. In any case, most state agencies charged with enforcing state anti-discrimination legislation have a work sharing arrangement with the EEOC
What to Have When Reporting SOGI Discrimination
When you file a complaint with either the EEOC or state agency, you will need to show that you have made the attempt to resolve the issue with your employer but this has failed. Any evidence you have which proves that you have been discriminated against should be submitted with your complaint. The EEOC or the state agency will investigate the complaint and may communicate with your employer. The clearer the evidence that a breach of the law has taken place, the easier it is for these agencies to try and resolve it. Clear breaches may lead to penalties being imposed. You may also be given permission to sue your employer.
Speak With an Employment Law Attorney
State and federal governments have laws in place that make it illegal to practice SOGI discrimination. If this has been your experience at work and it is not stopping, you should bring your complaint to either the EEOC or its state equivalent depending on the size of your workplace. Fill out the Free Case Evaluation to get connected with an independent employment law attorney who subscribes to the website and may be able to help you with your case.