Discrimination and harassment of LBGTQ employees is a real problem. Many do not feel safe at work and are retaliated against if they speak up.
In California, one group of workers that continues to experience a lot of harassment and discrimination is LBGTQ employees. According to research such as a study by the Williams Institute, as many as 43 percent of these individuals overall have been harassed, bypassed for promotions, fired or otherwise discriminated against. However, this type of behavior in the state is illegal. Here are some scenarios in which an employee might consider seeking compensation against an employer.
Being taunted for behaviors that others see as overly masculine or feminine (or not masculine or feminine)
A gay man might be continually teased with statements like, “Oh, you are stronger than a lot of other fairies are,” or “Ha, no makeup today?” Likewise, a lesbian could be made fun of for having a masculine appearance or for appearing stereotypically “feminine.” In none of these cases is the work environment productive and free of hostilities.
Moreover, if the victim in question speaks up, he or she risks not being seen as a team player and could be demoted. That is not fair. In fact, wrongful termination sometimes occurs after someone has filed a complaint based on sexual orientation harassment.
Jokes full of sexual innuendo or inappropriate statements are another way in which LBGTQ harassment occurs. The jokes can make victims feel embarrassed and self-conscious, and repeat bad stereotypes.
Supervisors, managers and others in positions of authority may also sexually harass gay and lesbian employees. A straight male boss, for example, might say things like, “I bet I could turn you straight, especially if you want that promotion,” and touch a lesbian employee in inappropriate places. On the other hand, a female boss could make unprofessional overtures toward a lesbian employee. No matter the orientation and sex of the person in authority, harassment is possible. It is also possible to come from co-workers of equal or lesser authority.
Suppose a company has a party where opposite-sex spouses are recognized as spouses while same-sex spouses do not get mentioned at all. Moreover, workers who hold hands with their same-sex spouses get snide comments and nasty looks while those who hold hands with their opposite-sex spouses do not. Unfair treatment can occur in small and large ways.
Being held back from progressing
Discrimination in California can occur at all stages of the employment process, even hiring. Someone might not be hired because he appears too feminine. Or someone might come out as gay at work and, all of a sudden, the promotion he was on track for goes to someone else.
This type of discrimination is not always clear cut, and employees should keep a record of dates, times, witnesses, evidence and more. An attorney can evaluate a case and assess what has happened.