STEPS LGBTQ+ WORKERS CAN TAKE IF THEY ARE EXPERIENCING DISCRIMINATION IN THE WORKPLACE
More than 53% of LGBTQ+ people have experienced harassment or discrimination in the workplace. Many LGBTQ+ people are afraid to report the harassment and discrimination they are victims of because they can’t afford to lose their jobs and because they don’t realize that they have a legal right to work without being harassed or discriminated against.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act protects all workers from discrimination based on sex, race, religion, and place of birth. The Supreme Court ruled that the protections of Title VII also prohibit discrimination based on gender identity and orientation. That means that employers legally cannot discriminate against LGBTQ+ people.
The EEOC, or Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, is a federal agency that was created just to investigate workplace violations of the Civil Rights Act. The EEOC operates in every state, but it has a special agreement with the labor authorities in 44 states. If you file a complaint against an employer in one of those 44 states, the EEOC will automatically forward copies of your complaint and all supporting documents to the state labor authorities. The state can then open its own investigation against your employer for violating any state labor laws.
Examples Of Workplace Discrimination
There are many ways that LGBTQ+ are discriminated against at work but the most commonly reported types of harassment and discrimination are:
Being Given Bad Shifts
LGBTQ+ workers who are work hourly often report that their hours are cut or they are assigned to work shifts they are not available. If your hours are consistently cut and given to other workers or you are assigned to work when you have said you’re not available that’s discrimination.
Insults, Slurs, or Offensive Questions
More than 50% of LGBTQ+ workers say that they have been present when bosses or coworkers make offensive “jokes” or tell offensive stories about LGBTQ+ people. Transgender people report this type of harassment more than any other group. Slurs, “jokes”, and promoting offensive stereotypes are always discriminatory.
Misgendering you on purpose
If you’re a transgender person and you’ve made your pronouns and chosen name clear but your coworkers or bosses refuse to use the correct pronouns and continue to use your dead name that’s discrimination.
Filing A Workplace Discrimination Claim
No one should feel afraid or victimized at work. If you are experiencing discrimination or harassment at work because of your gender or orientation you can take steps to make sure that your employer is held accountable. You need to write a list of all the incidents of discrimination that you’ve experienced. Write down what happened, when it happened, and who did it. Then gather up any supporting evidence you have like print outs, screen shots, photos, videos, or any other evidence you can get. Take your list and the evidence to your boss and to HR. Tell your boss and HR that the discrimination you’re experiencing is illegal and needs to stop. If they won’t listen to your concerns or say that they will get to it but never take any concrete action to make you feel safe and stop the harassment then you can file a complaint with the EEOC.
Filing a complaint against your employer can be done line through the EEOC’s website in minutes. Just upload a complaint and all the evidence that you have to support your complaint.
You can also file a claim on the state level as well. In New York, you can file a discrimination complaint with the Division on Human Rights. Your claim on the state level will also be dual-field with the EEOC and vice versa, so you don’t need to send the same application twice.
Penalties For Discrimination
It’s a serious crime to violate the Civil Rights Act. Your employer could face serious charges, including criminal charges. If the EEOC finds that you were discriminated against you could receive money for pain and suffering or for any back wages that you are owed.