The Employment Law Group® law firm has experience representing victims of sexual orientation discrimination and is listed in the http://www.gaylaw.org attorney referral network.
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Protection in the Workplace
Currently there is no federal law that prohibits workplace discrimination against employees based on sexual orientation. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act has been interpreted to provide protection only to those employees who have been discriminated against due to race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. Recent US Supreme Court cases such as Price Waterhouse v. Hopkins, have broadened the umbrella of Title VII by holding that Title VII prohibits discrimination against a person because that person does not conform to traditional sex stereotypes.
Does the D.C. Human Rights Act Prohibit Discrimination Based on Sexual Orientation?
Yes. The D.C. Human Rights Act prohibits termination, suspension, demotion, failure to hire, and harassment of individuals based on their sexual orientation. It also protects those individuals who are discriminated against because of their gender identity or expression, regardless of the individual's assigned sex at birth. The D.C. Human Rights Act differs from Title VII in that it applies to all employers regardless of size. Employees who believe they have suffered discrimination based on sexual orientation must file a complaint within one year of the date on which the adverse action was taken against the employee. The D.C. Human Rights Act does not have a damages cap and authorizes reinstatement, back pay, and compensatory damages.
Sexual Orientation Discrimination in Maryland
Under Maryland law, employers are prohibited from discriminating against employees based upon sexual orientation. An employee who suffers from discrimination can file a complaint with the Maryland Commission on Human Rights and has the right to a jury trial. A prevailing employee is entitled to reinstatement, back pay, and litigation costs including attorney fees.
What must a plaintiff prove to prevail?
To prevail in a discrimination case based on sexual orientation, an employee must prove that his sexual orientation was a motivating factor in the employer's decision to take an adverse action against him.
Pending Federal Law Prohibiting Discrimination against Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Employees
On November 7, 2007, the House passed the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA). The bill is currently on the Senate Legislative Calendar. If enacted into law, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act would prohibit discrimination against employees on the basis of sexual orientation. The Employment Law Group will continue to advocate for passage of ENDA to ensure that sexual orientation is never a barrier to advancement in the workplace.
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