During a recent interview, former Louisiana State University (LSU) Tigers running back Derrius Guice revealed that the National Football League (NFL) asked him whether he liked men. Although it is the League’s policy not to consider or inquire about sexual orientation, allegations of sexual orientation discrimination during the hiring process of three draft prospects prompted an investigation in 2013. Workplace discrimination based on sex is prohibited by both Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD). However, whether a person is entitled to protection from sexual orientation discrimination is a fairly new issue for courts.
Sexual Orientation Discrimination: Federal Law
There is some debate as to whether Title VII protections against discrimination based on sex also apply to discrimination based on sexual orientation (generally, identification as either heterosexual, homosexual or bisexual). Recently, a New York federal appeals court ruled that Title VII protections extend to claims of employment discrimination based on sexual orientation. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has also held that discrimination based on sexual orientation is prohibited under Title VII. The rationale is that sexual orientation is a form of sex discrimination because it inherently involves gender-based stereotypes regarding relationships.
New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD)
Although unsettled at the federal level, sexual orientation discrimination is expressly prohibited under the NJLAD. This law applies to men, women and transgender individuals in employment, housing, places of public accommodation, credit and business contracts. It states that it is unlawful to discriminate against people based on several characteristics, including sex, pregnancy, familial status, marital status, domestic partnership or civil union status, affectional or sexual orientation and gender identity or expression. Therefore, New Jersey employees may not be fired or denied promotions, raises, bonuses or otherwise treated differently based on their sexual orientation.
New Jersey employees may also not be subject to harassment at work. One common form of sexual orientation harassment is a hostile work environment. Making threats, telling offensive jokes and trying to humiliate or intimidate the victim are all actions that contribute to a hostile work environment and can give rise to a sexual orientation discrimination lawsuit. Another basis for a claim of discrimination is wrongful termination. Although New Jersey is an employment at will state (one in which employers can fire employees for any reason), there are some exceptions to the rule, including firing on the basis of an unlawful reason such as sexual orientation discrimination.
Red Bank Employment Discrimination Lawyers at McOmber McOmber & Luber, P.C. Represent Victims of Sexual Orientation Discrimination
If you believe you were fired, passed over for promotions or otherwise treated unfairly on the basis of your sexual orientation, you may have a valid sexual orientation discrimination claim. For a free, confidential consultation, call a skilled Red Bank employment discrimination lawyer at McOmber McOmber & Luber, P.C. at 732-842-6500 or contact us online. We represent clients throughout New Jersey, including those in Red Bank, Marlton, Middletown, and Cherry Hill.