Sexual Orientation Discrimination

Incredibly, there still is no federal law in the United States expressly prohibiting sexual orientation or gender identity discrimination. However, both New York State and New York City do prohibit employers and other entities from treating an individual differently because of his or her sexual orientation or gender identity. Twenty other states, the District of Columbia, and other local jurisdictions have also passed statutes that prohibit sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination in the workplace. In addition, employees and contractors who work for the federal government and applicants to federal jobs are protected from sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination by the Civil Service Reform Act and Executive Orders 11478 and 11246. A bill that would prohibit all employment discrimination based on sexual orientation—the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA)—has passed the U.S. Senate and is before Congress at present.

Wigdor LLP is proud to be involved in efforts to change the lack of federal legislation prohibiting sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination. Our Firm works closely with several LGBT organizations and is a leader in promoting workplace equality for employees who have been discriminated against on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. We have successfully represented employees from many industries in litigating sexual orientation discrimination claims, whether in high-profile and highly compensated professional and executive environments or blue-collar workplaces.

Sexual orientation or gender identity discrimination can take the form of harassment, as well as other inequitable treatment with respect to an employee’s terms and conditions of employment (including, for example, disparate pay, denial of a promotion or wrongful termination).  An individual who is subjected to gender stereotyping may also be able to bring claims under laws prohibiting gender discrimination, such as Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VII”).  Indeed, courts have held that an LGBT employee who is harassed or discriminated against for failing to conform to sexual identity or gender “norms” may obtain relief under Title VII. Moreover, Title VII also protects against same-sex sexual harassment if it is shown to be based upon an employee’s sex and not only because of sexual orientation. The form and type of evidence showing sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination can be subtle, and the Firm’s attorneys will spend the time necessary to discuss with you and investigate the facts of your situation to determine whether we can help you pursue legal action.

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