The laws protecting members of the LGBTQ community vary from one state to the next. There are some states that have very strong protections in place, but there are many states that do not have protections in place for the LGBTQ community. So, depending on where you are located, you may be able to take legal action against your employer if they mistreat you or discriminate because of your sexual orientation or with which gender you may identify.
While there are many times when individuals of the LGBTQ community are mistreated or discriminated against, sometimes the employee has very little opportunity to protect himself or herself. This may mean that you have no grounds for a lawsuit, but in other states, there are laws to protect you and you may be able to succeed with a claim against the employer. There are many ways that an individual could be mistreated by an employer for his or her sexual orientation or gender identity.
As an example, in Tennessee there aren’t laws in place to protect members of the LGBTQ community in the workplace. But on the other hand, in California there are strict laws being enforced to protect the LGBTQ community from being mistreated by employers.
These laws may apply to hiring, promotions, pay and benefits, and termination. If you believe you are a victim of workplace discrimination because you are a member of the LGBTQ community, you should speak with an employment law attorney who handles employee discrimination and harassment cases.
States With Laws In Place
There are currently 21 states and the District of Columbia that have laws enacted to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. One state – Wisconsin – has laws in place that prohibit discrimination based only on sexual orientation.
There are 7 states with laws that prohibit discrimination against public employees based on sexual orientation and gender identity while there are 4 states with laws that prohibit discrimination against public employees based on sexual orientation only.
In 28 states there are no explicit statewide laws to protect people from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity when it concerns employment, housing, and public accommodations. In those states, you may not be able to pursue a claim against an employer for discrimination because of your sexual orientation or gender identity if you believe you have been fired from a job, looked over for a promotion, or you aren’t paid as much as other workers.
Some laws may only protect you from being fired from your job or from being hired for a position because of your sexual orientation or gender identity, but others may have laws that protect you from all kinds of mistreatment, including being paid lower wages or being given an undesirable shift because the boss finds out about your personal life.
What Can You Do In This Situation?
If your employer has discriminated against you, you will need to check to determine which protections are offered to you in your state. Just because you aren’t aware of specific laws in place for the LGBTQ community doesn’t mean that you cannot file legal action against them for discriminating against you or mistreating you. You can do an investigation online, but to make sure you understand your rights and the best way to proceed, you should talk with an employment lawyer who is licensed in your state.
When you enlist the help of an employment lawyer, you are likely going to be much more effective in pursuing your case against your employer. An attorney is familiar with the state and federal laws and will be able to determine the best way to proceed with a claim. The attorney will gather all the evidence and supporting documentation for your specific case and can make sure you are treated fairly throughout the claims process.
When you hire an employment lawyer, you may not have to pay anything out of pocket. Some lawyers will take your case on a contingency basis, which means that he or she will not be paid until your claim has been won and you recover compensation for your damages. Others may have an hourly rate, so it’s best to discuss payment with your lawyer right away.
To have the details of your case reviewed by an attorney that takes cases in your area, complete the Free Case Evaluation Form on this page. An employment lawyer licensed in your state will help determine the best way to proceed with your claim and will go over your rights with you.