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  • Writer's pictureDavid Manes

How Employment Law Protects LGBT Employees

The LGBT community faces statistically more employment discrimination than any other group of people in the United States. A large amount of filed complaints come from LGBT employees who’ve experienced discrimination based upon their sexual orientation or gender identity. If an employee is actively fulfilling his or her duties in the workplace, sexual orientation and gender identity should not be a factor.

What Is Sexual Orientation Discrimination?

Discrimination based on sexual orientation is the negative treatment of any individual based on their actual or perceived sexual orientation. Honestly, discrimination often happens due to perception or association with someone of a different sexual orientation. Since the law of the United States of America strives for equal employee treatment, any type of discrimination is unlawful.

Generally, sexual orientation discrimination falls under two categories: different treatment or harassment.

Different Treatment:

This discrimination can be hard to notice, but it can be as simple as seeing a change in how others treat you when they find out your sexual orientation.

  1. disciplined differently

  2. not being promoted

  3. wrongful termination

  4. supervisor treats you differently

  5. not being hired


This type of discrimination is much more obvious because it’s usually very blatant, whether in comments, jokes, or offensive comics.

  1. requests for sexual favors

  2. violent comments

  3. negative portrayals of different sexual orientations

  4. sexual assault or rape

What Can I Do If I Experience Sexual Orientation Discrimination?

In the United States, the Federal Government does not explicitly protect the LGBT community from discrimination; however, almost half of the states have passed laws that make employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity illegal. And more so, the local law has moved in many boroughs to make sexual orientation discrimination unlawful. Despite the highest laws of the land not yet protecting the rights of the LGBT, there is a movement throughout the states to provide for LGBT employees.

How Employment Law Protects LGBT Employees

Even if there is no law that protects the rights of the LGBT community in your state or county, there are employment laws that your circumstances may fall under. An employment lawyer will be able to assist you in the details of your situation. But, the following are a few options that can be grounds for an employment discrimination case.

  1. infliction of emotional stress

  2. privacy invasion

  3. physical or verbal harassment

  4. gossip to malign your character

  5. wrongful termination

  6. battery or assault

Any of those circumstances are grounds for filing a lawsuit against your employer or colleague for discrimination. Who is protected from sexual orientation discrimination in Pennsylvania?

More specifically, in July 2015, the EEOC ruled that sexual orientation discrimination is illegal. The commission cited that it is unlawful under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Although a huge step forward for the LGBT community, courts still have the capacity to reject this ruling.

If you find yourself in the stressful situation of sexual orientation discrimination or harassment and you’re not sure what to do next, contact an employment lawyer who will know how to navigate your situation and what your rights are under the law.

Don’t hesitate, talk to an employment attorney: (412) 626-5626 or

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