“All men are created equal,” penned Thomas Jefferson in the second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence, but, as we all know, that didn't really apply to all men. It took years of fighting for civil rights and women rights to attain equality, though it can be argued it is still not equitable.
Yet, today, there is still a huge population of LGBT (lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender) people who face discrimination every day in so many aspects of their lives, but none more prevalent than employment discrimination. In more than half of the states in America, the LGBT community can be denied employment just because of their suspected sexual orientation; so much for “all men are created equal.”
An overwhelming 89% of Americans believe there is a federal law protecting the rights of the LGBT community from workplace discrimination, but no such law actually exists. Since 1974 Congress has been unable to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, or ENDA, which would provide the gay and transgender workforce protections against workplace discriminations based on a person's real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.
While ENDA has become a political hot potato in Washington, it has fallen to the states to enact their own laws, leaving the LGBT community to be discriminated against legally, depending on in which state they reside.
When you consider that an estimated 9 million, or approximately 4% of the United States population, is lesbian, gay, or bisexual, and .3% is transgender, that is a tremendous amount of people that fear getting fired, not hired, or promoted every day.
In fact, 29 states offer no level of protection for sexual orientation and, in 33 states, there is no state-level gender identity protection, which means you can be fired just for being transgender. In this day and age, it seems outrageous that American citizens should live in fear of losing a job because of who they are and what their sexual orientation is.
Without a uniform federal law, an LGBT person must educate themselves fully on the state and local laws where they live to protect themselves from discrimination, which can be quite a feat, interpreting the hodge-podge of statutes.
Employment discrimination is employment discrimination, regardless of the individual experiencing it. The definition means “when an employee or job applicant is treated unfairly because of their race, gender, age, religion, etc.”
For example, if you are denied employment because you are transgender, harassed because of your sexual orientation, or not promoted because you are gay, these are all claims of LGBT-related discrimination according to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). These are serious issues, and they impact thousands of people in the LGBT community every day, but they are not always so clear-cut, so identifying employee discrimination can be complicated.
Like gender discrimination cases, it's important to keep a paper trail to back up an LGBT employment discrimination claim.
- Keep emails sent to management explaining to them the form of discrimination.
- If there was harassment, take pictures of any items that may have been used.
- Keep a journal of any occurrences that have happened, noting who, what, when, why, and where.
If there is no resolution, legal counsel may need to be sought. There are many firms, like Barrett and Farahany in Atlanta, Georgia, that specialize in employment discrimination and other employment issues. This is not about entitlement; this is about the right to be treated fairly and equally in the workplace, regardless who you are or how you identify yourself.
It's about the opportunity to make a fair wage and decent living, and even be rewarded with a raise or a promotion for a job well done. It's about all employees being treated equally, no matter what.
Contact us today to speak with an attorney!