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Sexual Orientation Discrimination

The last few decades have seen remarkable strides in both widespread social acceptance and legal protections and rights for individuals who identify with LGBTQ sexual orientations. That said, there is still discrimination that occurs in the workplace over sexual orientation. California has long been a leader in the country on LGBTQ protections in the workplace, and provides some of the strongest rights for those who have been adversely affected by illegal employment discrimination.

If you believe you may been adversely affected by sexual orientation discrimination in the workplace – either in refusal to hire you, wrongful termination, or in being demoted or otherwise penalized for your sexual orientation – the legal team at Vogel Law, APC in Pasadena is here to help. We will work with you to understand your situation, assess whether illegal discrimination occurred, and, if so, pursue all available legal strategies on your behalf to win financial compensation and injunctive relief, if necessary, including restoring you to your position.

Sexual Orientation Discrimination is Illegal Under California and Federal Law

Both federal and California state law make it illegal to discriminate against a worker or applicant because of their sexual orientation. At the federal level, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has taken the position that federal law does outlaw such discrimination, a position which the Supreme Court has repeatedly upheld.

In California, the law against sexual orientation discrimination is even more clear. Pursuant to the California Fair Employment and Housing Act, California employers (and those employing individuals within the state) may not discriminate against employees on the basis of actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.  

Common Forms of Sexual Orientation Discrimination

Sexual orientation discrimination may be both overt – as when employee is told that his or her sexual orientation is the reason for an adverse employment decision – or it may be hidden.

Furthermore, sexual orientation discrimination may occur via a wide variety of contexts and actions. Common forms of sexual orientation discrimination in California include:

  • Not hiring or interviewing a candidate based on perceived LGBT status
  • Terminating an employee's employment based on LGBT status
  • Demoting or suspending an LGBT employee based on their orientation
  • Creating a hostile work environment for LGBT employees in an attempt to have them quit
  • Allowing workers to create a hostile work environment for LGBT employees
  • Supervisors making discriminatory or harassing remarks about employees based on their sexual orientation or gender transition
  • Refusing to allow access to restrooms corresponding to an employee's gender identity

Pursuing Your Sexual Orientation Discrimination Claim

When an employer does use overt discrimination against an employee, e.g. telling an employee he can no longer work at the company because he is gay, then there is a clear case of discrimination, and pursuing a case may be simpler. But in most cases, employers and supervisors understand that California law prohibits sexual orientation discrimination, and will attempt to provide a false or “pretextual” reason for your adverse employment decision, such as telling an LGBT worker he is being fired for excessive tardiness when sexual orientation was the actual reason. This is nevertheless illegal and can be the basis for a winning claim.

When you work with the legal team at Vogel Law, APC, we will take whatever steps are necessary to probe deeper into the situation that resulted in your adverse employment action to gather the necessary evidence to support your claim. This can be done through interviewing witnesses, subpoenaing internal company documents and emails, and deposing company officers and employees prior to trial, all in the name of building your case.

In many cases, it is not necessary to go to trial to win victory in a sexual orientation discrimination claim, as defendants are often eager to resolve the situation without unnecessary legal fees and to take appropriate action against the offending individuals at the company. Contact us to learn more about what actions may be appropriate in your situation.

Contact a Pasadena Workplace Discrimination Attorney Today

Vogel Law, APC represents California workers in helping them win justice and financial recovery through employment discrimination, wrongful termination, and other labor law matters. With three decades of experience in bringing hundreds of actions on behalf of California workers, Brian Vogel has the skills, tenacity, and deep knowledge of California and federal employment law to fight for justice on your behalf. Contact him today to schedule a consultation regarding your potential sexual orientation discrimination claim.


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Mr. Vogel was there every step of the way to help guide and encourage me and to patiently answer my questions. If you are looking for a professional, compassionate and tough minded attorney, I strongly endorse Mr. Vogel.