LGBT discrimination in the workplace still happens far too frequently. In surveys, one in four LGBT employees in the U.S. reports experiencing discrimination, but gender, identity, and sexual orientation have no bearing whatsoever on a person’s ability to perform a job.

As you probably know, LGBT discrimination in hiring and employment is against the law in the state of California. Nevertheless, hiring and employment discrimination against LGBT individuals persists. This is where an Oakland discrimination law firm can help.

LGBT discrimination can be subtle or explicit. It can make a workplace hostile, and it can have a substantial and negative impact on a person’s life and career.

HOW DOES CALIFORNIA PROTECT LGBT EMPLOYMENT RIGHTS?

What employment rights have been established for LGBT individuals in California? What are your legal options if you are a victim of LGBT discrimination at your job?

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The California Fair Employment and Housing Act of 1959 (FEHA) prohibits employment discrimination based on gender, identity, and sexual orientation. FEHA protects employees in this state from LGBT discrimination in hiring and employment and from on-the-job harassment.

If you’ve been harassed at your place of work, denied a promotion, or wrongfully terminated due to your gender, identity, or sexual orientation, you have the right to take legal action against an employer who is guilty of harassment or of hiring or employment discrimination in California.

WHAT SHOULD EMPLOYERS DO TO PREVENT LGBT DISCRIMINATION?

California employers are legally obligated to protect all of their employees from discrimination, harassment, and hostile work environments. This protection should be provided through training, supervision, and by enforcing appropriate policies and establishing appropriate practices.

When employers in California fail to meet this obligation, they may be held liable and ordered to pay damages to the victims of harassment and discrimination.

If you are a victim of LGBT discrimination at your place of work, here in the Bay Area or anywhere else in the state of California, arrange as quickly as possible to discuss your situation and your legal options with an experienced Oakland employment rights attorney.

An employment rights attorney will review the details of your LGBT discrimination claim, determine if you have grounds to bring a legal action, and suggest the most constructive way to move forward – which might be filing a discrimination lawsuit against the employer.

BEFORE SUING AN EMPLOYER, WHAT STEPS MUST BE TAKEN?

However, before you can bring legal action against a California employer for LGBT discrimination, harassment, or a hostile work environment, you will need to take these measures first:

  • Put it on paper: If you report discrimination to a supervisor, manager, or HR department, put it in writing. If you file a discrimination claim that ends up in court, you are going to need evidence for your claim. You’ll have to prove that discrimination actually occurred.
  • Line up witnesses: If you have been a target of LGBT discrimination at your place of work, identify co-workers who have witnessed that discrimination and who would be willing to testify on your behalf.
  • Take one step at a time: Taking an employment discrimination case to trial is a last resort. Many employers in California have their own internal protocols for dealing with discrimination claims, and you must work through those channels first.

WHAT IS A “RIGHT TO SUE” AUTHORIZATION?

Additionally, before you can take an LGBT discrimination claim to a court of law, you must obtain authorization – a “right to sue” – from the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the state Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH), or both.

discrimination lawyers in CA

Meet with an employment rights lawyer before you take any legal steps or seek a “right to sue” from the DFEH or the EEOC. If you make a mistake in the paperwork or if a misunderstanding arises, your employer’s lawyers will try to take advantage of that mistake or misunderstanding.

If you have been a target of LGBT discrimination in this state, a skilled California employment lawyer can provide you with sound legal guidance, explain your options, and advocate aggressively for the justice that is rightfully yours.

WHAT CONSTITUTES LGBT DISCRIMINATION?

California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act prohibits LGBT discrimination in hiring and employment, including:

  • job applications, screenings, and interviews
  • training, transfers, leaves, promotions, benefits, and terminations
  • working conditions

Employers violate the laws prohibiting LGBT discrimination when they:

  • deny a job, raise, promotion, training, leave, or benefits to someone on the basis of the person’s real or perceived gender, identity, or sexual orientation
  • harass or retaliate against an employee for filing a complaint regarding discrimination based on real or perceived gender, identity, or sexual orientation
  • sanction or engage in ongoing behavior that creates a hostile work environment

WHAT ARE THE LEGAL REMEDIES FOR LGBT DISCRIMINATION?

If an employer harassed you or discriminated against you on the basis of your gender, identity, or sexual orientation, and if you file a discrimination claim against the employer with help from an experienced Oakland employment rights attorney, that employer may be ordered to:

  • hire or reinstate you
  • compensate you for lost wages, emotional distress, and attorney’s fees
  • pay you punitive damages

LGBT workers

Do not let an employer intimidate you. In California, if you are a victim of LGBT discrimination at your place of work, you are legally protected, an employer may not retaliate against you in any way, and the law in this state will be on your side.

WHEN SHOULD YOU CONTACT AN EMPLOYMENT RIGHTS LAW FIRM IN CA?

However, you must act quickly. You cannot sue for discrimination that happened years ago. LGBT discrimination victims have one year after a discrimination incident to seek a right to sue from the EEOC or DFEH, and if they obtain a right to sue, they have one year to file a lawsuit.

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LGBT discrimination is unacceptable. Harassment, employer retaliation, and hostile work environments are also unacceptable. You have a legal right to work without discrimination, and you also have the right to an employment attorney’s advice, guidance, and representation.

Nothing is more important than your career, your rights, and your future.

If you have been a target of LGBT hiring or employment discrimination in this state, pick up the phone and call a reliable California employment attorney. Do not wait to schedule a consultation – do it now. Your career and your future may depend on it.

By: Fred Geonetta

Frederick J. Geonetta is a graduate of the University of California, Hastings College of Law. His legal practice is entirely devoted to litigation. Mr. Geonetta has spent the past 25 years in private practice representing both plaintiffs and defendants who have been harmed or wronged by the actions of others or who have been falsely accused of causing harm to others. He represents clients across the U.S. and international clients who seek U.S. legal advice or representation.