Sexual Preference Discrimination FAQ

Getting and keeping a job is an important part of your life. Even if the job you have is not what you want to have as a career, it should still be a place where you can have the same opportunities as your co-workers, regardless of your sexual preference.

Sexual preference discrimination can be a difficult problem to face. There are no federal laws to protect victims of this type of discrimination, but there are many state and local laws that offer protection. You may even find that your company has policies in place if you have been a victim.

Everything combined, being a victim of sexual preference discrimination can be a difficult and confusing time. Talking to a skilled attorney can help you understand what to do next and what you can expect from filing a discrimination claim.

What Is Sexual Preference Discrimination?

Sexual preference discrimination is a negative action taken against you by your employer because of your sexual orientation. Negative actions your employer might take against you could include:

  • Wrongful termination
  • Refusal to hire or promote
  • Changes in schedule or work duties

Sometimes, discrimination will show up in subtle ways or as "one of many" reasons for a negative action. Discrimination should not be part of the reasoning for taking a negative action against an employee.

What Should I Do If I Am A Victim Of Sexual Preference Discrimination?

Your first step will be to talk to someone within your company about what happened. In most cases, you will need to talk to the person or department that handles human resources. You should follow their directions closely and keep your own records during the process. In addition to the steps in the process, you should also keep a record that includes:

  • Further negative actions taken by your employer
  • Progress of the report you filed
  • People you have talked to regarding your report

What About Company Policies That Differ From State Protections?

By law, these can be more, but not less strict than state laws with regard to discrimination. So if, for example, you live in a state that does not have any state protections against sexual preference discrimination, it is possible for your company to have a policy protecting you from this form of discrimination. The opposite, however, would not be upheld. If you lived in a state where there were protections, even if there is no matching company policy, you would still have protection against discrimination.

Are There Federal Protections For Victims Of Sexual Preference Discrimination?

There are no federal protections for sexual preference discrimination. Currently, sexual preference is not one of the protected groups of people under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

There are, however, many state and local laws that address sexual preference discrimination, and many companies have policies against this type of discrimination. States with laws protecting victims of sexual preference discrimination include:

  • California
  • Illinois
  • Massachusetts
  • New Jersey
  • Rhode Island
  • Colorado
  • Iowa
  • Minnesota
  • New Mexico
  • Vermont
  • Connecticut
  • Maine
  • Nevada
  • New York
  • Washington
  • Hawaii
  • Maryland
  • New Hampshire
  • Oregon
  • Wisconsin

If you have been a victim of sexual preference discrimination, talk to an attorney who is knowledgeable in employment and discrimination law. A lawyer can help you understand the steps you should take and what you can expect from filing a claim.