As of June 15, 2020, LGBTQ employees are protected from discrimination based on their sexual orientation and gender identity. The Supreme Court of the United States ruled that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act protected gay and transgender employees from workplace discrimination because the definition of “sex” includes such protections. The landmark case that makes discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity is Bostock v. Clayton County. The remainder of the page is an explanation of some of the hurdles gay, transgender, or other workers faced when contemplating whether to pursue a claim for discrimination because of sexual orientation or gender identity. Every employee deserves a workplace that is free from discrimination and harassment. Unfortunately for LGBTQ workers in Ohio, there are still huge gaps in legal protections. There is currently no state or federal law that expressly prohibits employers from discriminating against employees because of sexual orientation. That being said, there are certain recent EEOC decisions that are a step in the right direction. Indeed, if you have experienced discrimination in the workplace based on your sexual orientation or gender identity, you may have a legal claim under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. You should speak with our Columbus LGBTQ discrimination attorneys right away. At Coffman Legal, our experienced Columbus Ohio LGBTQ discrimination attorneys are strong and compassionate advocates for worker rights. If you or your loved one experienced any workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression, please do not hesitate to reach out to our Columbus law office for a free, fully confidential consultation.
It is worth noting that there have been some very important recent decisions in sexual orientation discrimination cases at the federal level. As a starting point, in Complainant v. Department of Transportation, a male employee of the DOT filed a claim after he was not given a permanent position at the agency. In reviewing the claim, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) determined that his status as a gay man was a key driving factor in the decision made by the employer. Notably, the case contains the following line: “sexual orientation as a concept cannot be defined or understood without reference to sex.” In another case, the EEOC ruled on an employee’s right to be free from gender identity discrimination is in the case. Specifically, in Complainant v. Department of Justice, a transgender woman alleged that she was denied a position due to her gender identity. Once again, the EEOC determined that gender identity discrimination is, by definition, a form of gender/sex discrimination. The ruling contains the following important line: “we conclude that intentional discrimination against a transgender individual because that person is transgender is, by definition, discrimination based on sex.” Under Title VII of the EEOC, your employer is not able to rely on sex-based considerations or take gender into account when taking an employment action. If your employer has treated you differently from other employees because of your sexual orientation, this treatment is illegal and you have the right to file a claim.
LGBTQ discrimination claims are complicated. There are currently several different important cases that are working their way through state and federal courts. Unfortunately, Ohio still lacks strong anti-LGBTQ workplace discrimination laws. However, it does not necessarily mean that LGBTQ employees are prevented from bringing a legal claim if they faced unfair treatment while on the job. As recent EEOC cases demonstrate, there is a very close link between discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and discrimination on the basis of sex/gender. Indeed, in many cases, sexual orientation discrimination is simply considered a form of sex discrimination. Many believe that Title VII already provides protections for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender workers (among others). An LGBTQ worker may be entitled to bring a sex discrimination claim:
Even though it is technically still legal in Ohio to be fired based on your sexual orientation, employers should not be able to discriminate on the basis of gender. Without question, more needs to be done to strengthen LGBTQ workplace protections in Ohio and throughout the United States. There are currently large and unacceptable gaps in protection. Groups like Equality Ohio are working with legislators to pass a bill to end this discrimination. Employers should never discriminate against employees or applicants who may not conform to an employer’s gender stereotypes or who otherwise exhibit gender non-conforming behavior.
At Coffman Legal, our Columbus Ohio LGBTQ discrimination lawyers have the skills and legal knowledge needed to handle the full range of LGBTQ discrimination cases. If you believe you have experienced LGBTQ discrimination based on your sexual orientation or gender identity at work, we are here to help. LGBTQ workers are now protected from discrimination based on their sexual orientation or gender identity under federal law (Title VII). If you have experienced discrimination because of your sexual orientation or gender identity, you may have a gender discrimination or sexual harassment claim. We will review your case and explain your rights to you. To schedule a free, fully private legal consultation, please do not hesitate to contact our Ohio LGBTQ discrimination attorneys at 614-949-1181.