Despite improvements in societal acceptance of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) individuals, sexual orientation discrimination in the workplace is still a prevalent problem in New Jersey. Until very recently, members of this class have not been explicitly protected under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act for sexual orientation or transgender status. However, Title VII prohibits gender discrimination, which the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has interpreted to include sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination. Many states, including New Jersey, have also enacted state laws to specifically address these types of employment discrimination. 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 LGBT community.
How Common is Workplace Discrimination Based on Sexual Orientation?
Unfortunately, workplace discrimination is a common occurrence for LGBT employees and candidates. According to American Progress, between 15% and 43% of gay people have experienced some form of harassment in the workplace. According to Catalyst: 20% of LGBT Americans have experienced discrimination when applying for jobs, and 22% have not been paid equally or promoted at the same rate as their peers. This issue scales all the way up to leadership positions: fewer than 0.3% of Fortune 500 board directors are openly LGBT in 2020.
Protections Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination in the Workplace Under NJ State Law
- LGBT status including:
- 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 LGBT individuals are still unfortunately subject to workplace discrimination, including harassment, wrongful termination, and retaliation. LGBT individuals who have experienced such workplace discrimination may have been:
- Demoted, unfairly disciplined, or fired because of their sexual preference or orientation.
- Denied promotions or other advancement opportunities based on their sexuality.
- Denied access to facilities or resources in the workplace due to your 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.
- 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 your 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 sexual orientation discrimination lawyers fight to obtain maximum compensation for those affected by workplace discrimination.
Sexual Orientation 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 being gay or transgender 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 sexual orientation discrimination, this was the first time employers were barred from firing gay or transgender employees on a federal level. This development is a milestone for the LGBT community and is sure to have wide-ranging effects on sexual orientation discrimination in the workplace cases in New Jersey and across the country.
Filing A Complaint for Workplace Discrimination
New Jersey employees who have experienced workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity may file a complaint in the New Jersey Superior Court or with the Division of Civil Rights (DCR), a New Jersey state agency. Before filing a complaint, employees who feel they have been the victim of sexual orientation discrimination should contact McOmber McOmber & Luber, P.C. first to discuss your rights and various options.
How New Jersey Employers Can Prevent Sexual Orientation Discrimination in the Workplace
Employers should be aware of applicable federal and state laws to avoid sexual orientation or gender identity-based discrimination claims. It is the responsibility of an employer to take proactive measures to prevent, investigate, address, and defend any possible claims of sexual orientation discrimination. If it is determined that unlawful discrimination occurred, companies and their administrators may be subject to statutory penalties or ordered to take affirmative action to remedy the discrimination.
To avoid legal penalties and ensure that you are taking appropriate steps to prevent and correct unlawful workplace discrimination, it is imperative to contact a knowledgeable attorney who can provide sound advice regarding your responsibilities under the law.
Penalties and Compensation for Sexual Orientation Discrimination in NJ
If you have been the victim of sexual orientation 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 LGBT 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 sexual orientation discrimination in the workplace.