Despite improvements in societal acceptance of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) individuals, members of this class are not explicitly protected under the 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 workplace discrimination. The Red Bank discrimination lawyers at McOmber & McOmber, P.C. are dedicated to fighting for the rights of the LGBTQ community.
New Jersey Law and LGBTQ Discrimination
The New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD) prohibits discrimination based on a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. The NJLAD prohibits discrimination based on, among other traits, sex, familial status, marital status, domestic partnership or civil union status, affectional or sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, genetic information and AIDS or HIV status.
Despite this state law, many LGBTQ individuals are still unfortunately subject to workplace discrimination, including harassment, wrongful termination and retaliation. LGBTQ individuals who have experienced such workplace discrimination may have been:
- Denied promotions or other advancement opportunities based on their sexuality
- Subject to inappropriate jokes, remarks 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
At McOmber & McOmber, our attorneys believe that all employees are entitled to a workplace that is free from discrimination. While LGBTQ rights have expanded in the past few years, there is still much to be accomplished. Our Red Bank discrimination lawyers fight to obtain maximum compensation for those affected by workplace discrimination.
Filing a Complaint
Individuals who experienced workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity may file a complaint with the EEOC. The EEOC has indicated that discrimination based on sexual orientation is protected under gender discrimination and as such, has accepted and filed sexual orientation discrimination lawsuits on behalf of LGBTQ employees.
However, federal courts have been inconsistent regarding the issue of whether Title VII prohibits discrimination based on gender identity. Some have ruled that transgender individuals are protected from discrimination based on their dress or behavior, while others have noted that Title VII does not explicitly prohibit discrimination based on such factors.
New Jersey employees may also choose to file a complaint based on the NJLAD with the Division of Civil Rights (DCR), a state agency. The DCR will investigate and determine whether there is probable cause to support the allegations. If there is, a hearing will be conducted before an administrative law judge, who will decide the case. The DCR will decide whether to accept the decision and will issue a final order. Complaints must be filed within 180 days after the alleged discrimination.
Remedies and Penalties
If you were the victim of workplace discrimination based on your sexual orientation or gender identity, you may be entitled to relief including reinstatement, hiring, upgrading, back pay and damages for pain and humiliation. The Red Bank discrimination lawyers at McOmber & McOmber, P.C. are experienced in exploring all legal options for LGBTQ discrimination claims.
Employers should also be aware of applicable federal and state laws to avoid sexual orientation or gender identity-based discrimination claims. 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 employment law.