Individuals who are pansexual, or experience sexual attraction to people of all genders or regardless of their gender, have gained recognition in recent years due to an increased awareness of different sexual orientations. Pansexual individuals can also identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender. Despite being an inclusive part of the LGBT community, pansexual individuals sometimes face disbelief and ridicule, even from other members of the community, based on a lack of knowledge about the orientation, or a confusion with bisexuality. However, pansexuality is a recognized and legitimate sexual orientation, and pansexual individuals are protected against employment discrimination by state and federal laws.
LGBT discrimination in the workplace, including pansexual discrimination, is unfortunately a prevalent problem in New Jersey despite increased societal acceptance of LGBT individuals in recent years. According to Catalyst, 22% of LGBT Americans have not been paid equally or promoted at the same rate as their peers, almost half (46%) are closeted in the workplace, and over half (53%) have heard jokes, slurs, or stereotypes at work. With offices in Red Bank, NJ and Marlton, NJ the employment discrimination lawyers at McOmber McOmber & Luber, P.C. are dedicated to fighting for the rights of the pansexual community.
Pansexuality vs. Bisexuality
Much of the discrimination pansexual individuals face is due to a confusion with bisexuality, or the belief that it is not a real sexual orientation. Pansexuality is sometimes considered a branch of bisexuality, and the two orientations have similarities, but they are distinct from each other.
Whereas bisexual individuals can be attracted to more than one gender, pansexual individuals are attracted to all genders, or to people regardless of their gender. For example, a bisexual individual might be attracted to both men and women, while a pansexual individual can be attracted to nonbinary people as well, including bigender, agender, or genderfluid individuals.
Pansexual individuals often fall victim to the same harmful stereotypes that bisexual individuals do, for example the idea that:
- Pansexuality doesn’t exist.
- Pansexual individuals are closeted about their real sexual orientation.
- Pansexual individuals are looking for attention or ‘just going through a phase.’
- Pansexual individuals are polyamorous, prone to cheating, or deviant.
- Pansexual individuals spread HIV/AIDs.
If a coworker, employer, or client makes references to these stereotypes in the workplace, it can be considered pansexual discrimination, and you should contact our experienced employment discrimination attorneys to discuss your situation.
Protections Against Pansexual Discrimination in the Workplace Under NJ State Law
- Familial status
- Marital status
- Domestic Partnership or civil union status
- Affectional or sexual orientation
- Gender identity or expression
- Genetic information
- AIDS or HIV status
Despite this state law, many pansexual individuals are still unfortunately subject to workplace discrimination, including harassment, wrongful termination and retaliation. According to American Progress, between 15% and 43% of LGBT employees have experienced some form of harassment in the workplace. Pansexual individuals who have experienced such workplace discrimination may have been:
- Demoted, unfairly disciplined, or fired because they are pansexual.
- Denied promotions or other advancement opportunities based on their sexuality.
- Denied access to facilities or resources in the workplace due to their sexuality.
- Given differential treatment or compensation because of their sexual orientation.
- Subject to inappropriate jokes, remarks, stereotyping, or other behavior that contributes to a hostile work environment, for example if coworkers make jokes based on the stereotypes mentioned above.
- Discriminated based on gender expression, such as their clothing, manner of speaking or mannerisms.
- Retaliated against for coming out regarding their gender identity.
- Subject to sexual harassment based on their sexual orientation.
At McOmber McOmber & Luber, P.C., our attorneys believe that all employees are entitled to a workplace that is free from discrimination. While LGBT rights have expanded in the past few years, there is still much to be accomplished. Our NJ pansexual discrimination lawyers fight to obtain maximum compensation for those affected by workplace discrimination.
Pansexual Discrimination and the June 2020 Supreme Court Decision
In a historic 6-3 decision on June 15, 2020, the Supreme Court ruled that an employee cannot be fired for their sexual orientation under federal law (Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia, No. 17-1618 (S. Ct. June 15, 2020)). This case was brought by three workers in Georgia who claimed that they were fired from their jobs because they were gay or transgender. By focusing on the plain text of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, the Court determined that “it is impossible to discriminate against a person for being homosexual or transgender without discriminating against that individual based on sex.” For example, if an employer fires a man who is married to a man, but would not fire a woman who is married to a man, they are taking action because of gender.
While workers in roughly half the country had previously been protected by local laws that prevented pansexual or other LGBT discrimination, this was the first-time employers were barred from firing LGBT employees on a federal level. This development is a milestone for the pansexual community and is sure to have wide-ranging effects on sexual orientation discrimination cases in New Jersey and across the country.
Filing A Complaint for Pansexual Discrimination in NJ
New Jersey employees who have experienced workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation may file a complaint in the New Jersey Superior Court or with the Division of Civil Rights (DCR), a New Jersey state agency. Filing with DCR is not required and an employee may sue her employer directly in Superior Court. Before filing a complaint, employees who feel they have been the victim of pansexual discrimination should contact McOmber McOmber & Luber, P.C. first to discuss your rights and various options.
Compensation for Pansexual Discrimination in the Workplace
If you have been the victim of pansexual discrimination in the workplace, you may be entitled to relief including reinstatement, hiring, upgrading, back pay and damages for pain and humiliation. The New Jersey LGBT discrimination lawyers at McOmber McOmber & Luber, P.C. are experienced in exploring all legal options for pansexual discrimination claims. Contact our Red Bank or Marlton office today to discuss your case, and our law firm will help you every step of the way in seeking justice for unlawful pansexual discrimination in the workplace.