Steps LGBTQ+ Workers Can Take If They Are Experiencing Discrimination in the Workplace

If you’re a member of the LGBTQ+ community who has experienced discrimination in the workplace or is currently experiencing it, you should know that gender identity and sexual orientation are now included as protected classes under Title VII of the Federal Civil Rights Act.

As of 2020 employers are prohibited from discriminating against employees on the basis of their sexual orientation, gender identity, race, religion, color, or country of national origin.

If you have been the victim of discrimination at work you can file a complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), and in some states you can also file a complaint with the state labor authorities.

What Are Examples of LGBTQ+ Discrimination?

Discrimination in the workplace can be blatant, but more often it’s subtle and people may question if it’s really discrimination. Common examples of LGBTQ+ discrimination can include things like:

Not getting promoted

When you don’t get a promotion that you’re in line for, or if someone that is less qualified for the job than you are gets a promotion instead of you it may be due to discrimination.

Dress code restrictions

Dress codes are commonly used by employers as a form of passive harassment to enforce gender and racial norms.

Slurs or demeaning comments

If your co-workers or colleagues or even management are regularly using slurs or statements that indicate bias against those in the LGBTQ+ community or refusing to respect your stated pronouns that may be discrimination.

Paying some employees less than others

Wage transparency can be eye opening. It highlights how some people are paid much less for a job than their similarly qualified colleagues, which can be a type of discrimination.

Not being given reasonable accommodations

Under Title VII employers must provide reasonable accommodations for employees which can include things like access to a safe and unisex bathroom. If you’re not being given accommodations that you need that’s discrimination.

Next Steps to Take

No amount of discrimination is ok. You are entitled to a safe workspace free from discrimination and harassment. If your employer is not providing that you can and should file complaints with the state labor board and with the EEOC.

File A Complaint with the EEOC

You can file a Federal discrimination complaint through the EEOC’s website directly or you can call and file a complaint on the phone. Your complaint can be kept confidential if you have reason to fear retaliation. However, it is illegal for your employer or anyone at your workplace to retaliate against you for filing a complaint.

When you are filing your compliant it will help if you are able to provide the Department of Labor with these details:

  • Your name
  • Your address and phone number (how you can be contacted)
  • The name of the company where you work(ed)
  • Location of the company (this maybe different from where you worked)
  • Phone number of the company
  • Manager or owner’s name
  • Type of work you did
  • Description of the racially discriminatory event or events.

If you have any evidence that supports your claim like emails, videos, or witness statements that will help your case.

Remedies for Discrimination

The EEOC takes discrimination cases seriously. Your employer may be subject to heavy fines or penalties if they are found to be discriminating against you. Also you may receive a payment for back wages or other monies that you should have gotten and would have gotten if the discrimination had not happened.

Additional Resources