Sexual Orientation Discrimination

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people have experienced a long and pervasive history of employment discrimination. Currently, only 22 states and the District of Columbia have laws that explicitly prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Fortunately, California is one of those states.

Los Angeles sexual orientation discrimination attorney Afshin Mozaffari has a long history of advocating for LGBT rights dating back to his college and law school years, and a comprehensive understanding of California employment law. We can help you navigate your rights under the law.

Under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) sexual orientation is a protected class, just like race or gender. This means that it is illegal for an employer to fire, fail to hire, or discriminate in any way against an employee because of his or her sexual orientation. FEHA defines sexual orientation as “homosexual, bisexual or heterosexual.”

The law prohibits discrimination based on “actual or perceived” sexual discrimination, which means that employees are protected from sexual-orientation-based discrimination and harassment even if the employer is mistaken about an employee’s sexual orientation.

FEHA also makes it illegal for an employer to discriminate against or harass an employee because he or she is perceived to be transgender or gender non-conforming.

Additionally, LGBT employment discrimination is illegal under federal law. In a landmark ruling issued on June 15, 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court held that an employer who fires or otherwise discriminates against an individual simply for being gay or transgender does so “because of sex,” in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. (Bostock v. Clayton County (2020) 140 S.Ct. 1731.) The Court reasoned: “An individual's homosexuality or transgender status is not relevant to employment decisions. That's because it is impossible to discriminate against a person for being homosexual or transgender without discriminating against that individual based on sex.” (Id. at 1741.)

Examples of Sexual Orientation Discrimination

Sexual orientation discrimination can take many forms. It can include:

  • Showing preferential treatment, such as promotions, more desirable job assignments, and better pay, to heterosexual employees
  • Use of homophobic and transphobic slurs or other insensitive statements that are insulting towards LGBT people
  • Denying married same-sex partners or same-sex partners in civil unions or domestic partnerships, the same benefits an employer provides to heterosexual partners in such relationships
  • Refusing employees the ability to use restrooms consistent with their gender identity
  • Harassment of employees because of their sexual orientation or gender identity

These are just a few examples of what sexual orientation discrimination can look like in the workplace. Discrimination is complicated and sometimes can be hard to identify, which is why it is important to speak with an attorney who is experienced in employment discrimination law and who can help you navigate how the laws work to protect you.

Los Angeles sexual orientation discrimination lawyer Afshin Mozaffari is highly experienced in handling sexual orientation discrimination cases and has achieved numerous successful results on behalf of LGBTQ workers. Mozaffari Law is here to hear your story and let you know what legal remedies are available to you. If you believe you are being discriminated against because of your sexual orientation or gender identity, contact Mozaffari Law at 323.696.0702 or for a confidential consultation.