Can I Sue My Employer for Not Using My Preferred Pronouns?

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Posted by Legal Team On September 17, 2023

Pronouns are used often to refer to gender and are critical to personal identity. Each individual has the right to choose how they identify, whether it is transgender, non-conforming, female, or male. And it can be demeaning to be addressed by the wrong pronouns.

Purposefully addressing someone by the incorrect pronoun, particularly in the workplace, is unacceptable. Have you spoken with your boss or employer about your pronoun preference only to be ignored? If so, then you may be dealing with workplace discrimination, and this practice is against the law.

Discrimination is Illegal in the Workplace in California

The Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) outlines the basis of discriminatory acts in the workplace. Employers are prevented by law from discriminating against employees based on gender, gender identity, gender expression, sex, and sexual orientation. Choosing to misgender an employee is a form of harassment.

Discrimination in the workplace may look like the following acts:

  • Asking inappropriate questions
  • Making inappropriate jokes or comments
  • Failing to consider a qualified employee for a promotion because of pronoun preference
  • Purposefully leaving employees out of assignments and giving poor assignments
  • Unfair treatment, such as demotions
  • Requiring an employee to use a restroom they are not comfortable with

Discriminatory workplace actions occur daily, and discrimination occurs from base wage jobs to higher-level company positions. It will be up to you to take action.

Addressing Discrimination in the Workplace

Taking action against an employer for discriminatory behavior will require a complaint to be filed with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH), the state employment agency in charge of addressing employment laws and employment claims. DFEH will investigate the occurrences to determine if an employer violated employment laws. If evidence exists of violations, then DFEH will take action.

Possible outcomes of their investigation can lead to changes in company policies and retraining for an employer with the possibility of monetary recovery for any lost income.

Employees experiencing discrimination also have the right to file a civil lawsuit. Choosing this option still requires the employee to go through DFEH, requesting the right to sue. A knowledgeable Northern California workplace discrimination attorney can build a solid case for a discrimination lawsuit.

Actions You Can Take

One of the most critical factors in establishing any wrongdoing is documentation. Documenting the dates, times, and actions involved in any incidents is imperative. Write down the names of co-workers or other individuals present when the interactions took place because they can corroborate a worker’s account of discrimination practices.

Any emails containing insensitive information or alluding to discrimination in promotional or assignment opportunities should be saved. The stronger the documentation an employee possesses, the more likely it is to prove discrimination.

Contact The Armstrong Law Firm immediately if you are fired for asking an employer to use your correct pronouns. Our team is a leading authority on wrongful termination, and we do not take these incidents lightly.

Northern California Workplace Discrimination Attorneys

Discrimination in the workplace is illegal. When employees take action to correct these behaviors and employers fail to change their actions, it is an individual’s right to take legal action. For over two decades, The Armstrong Law Firm has been at the forefront of employment issues in Northern California, fighting aggressively for the rights of all employees and equal treatment. A prompt response can be expected when you contact us about your employment matter for a consultation.