Gender and Orientation Discrimination

Gender and Orientation Discrimination Attorney in Orange County

Despite legislation enacted to prevent it, employment discrimination based on gender or sexual orientation continues to occur in the workplace.

Gender and sexual orientation, like race, age, and disability, are protected classes under state and federal law. California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) makes it illegal to discriminate against or harass an employee because of his or her actual or perceived sex, gender, gender identity, gender expression, or sexual orientation.

Examples of prohibited gender and orientation discrimination in California include:

  • Failing to hire someone, or withdrawing a job offer previously extended, because of that person’s gender, gender identity, gender expression, or sexual orientation.
  • Firing an employee because the employer believes the employee is in a same-sex relationship.
  • Promoting less qualified employees who are not LGBT or who are of a specific gender.
  • Failing to promote an employee because of gender, gender identity, gender expression, or sexual orientation.
  • Paying an employee less than others for performing substantially similar work based on gender or sexual orientation.
  • Creating a hostile work environment through repeated romantic overtures, sexual comments, jokes or prying into one’s personal affairs.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) reports that it received 1,705 charges of gender discrimination in California in 2014, accounting for 26.8% of the total charges for the state. Nationwide that year, EEOC received 26,027 charges of gender discrimination.

Protection Against Gender and Sexual Orientation Discrimination
Employers cannot legally provide different salaries, working conditions, training opportunities, or criteria for hiring, promotion or bonuses to men than provided to women, or vice versa. Sexual harassment is a form of gender discrimination. Both women and men also have the right to obtain and perform their jobs without suffering unwanted sexual demands or unwanted sexual communications and behavior.

Employment Discrimination Based on Sexual Orientation
FEHA specifically lists sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression as protected classes, whether or not the employee actually has the perceived characteristic. Protection under federal law is much more limited. Federal law does not currently provide specific protection against discrimination and harassment for LGBT employees, but it does protect an LGBT employee for failure to conform to stereotypical gender norms. An example could be discriminating against a lesbian because she does not act like a stereotypical woman.

Protection against discrimination in California under FEHA applies to homosexual, bisexual, transsexual, transgender, and heterosexual employees. Discrimination on the basis of an employer’s assumption about an employee’s sexual orientation is also illegal, whether or not that assumption is valid.

Protection Against Harassment
While Title VII treats sexual harassment as a form of discrimination, FEHA expressly prohibits harassment based upon gender or sexual orientation, whether through verbal, physical, or visual harassment. Harassment means more than just unwanted touching or repeated sexual propositions, it can include:

  • Epithets Derogatory comments or slurs
  • Rubbing against someone
  • Assault and physical interference with movement or work
  • Derogatory cartoons, drawings or posters, lewd gestures and leering

Protecting California Employees against Gender and Orientation Discrimination
At Sessions & Kimball LLP, we exclusively focus on protecting employee rights. Our attorneys are listed among California Super Lawyers®, and our firm has been named one of the region’s “Best Law Firms” by U.S. News and World Report. We have recovered millions for our clients.

If you are facing discrimination in the workplace because of your gender, gender identity, gender expression, or sexual orientation, contact us today for a free consultation with an attorney.

Sources:
EEOC: FY 2009-2014 EEOC Charge Receipts for California
EEOC: Charge Statistics FY 1997-2014
EEOC: Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
EEOC: The Equal Pay Act of 1963
DFEH: Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA)

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