Sexual Orientation Discrimination

We often get calls from gays and lesbians. You begin to notice that straight employees are being treated better in the workplace. They are getting more money for the same job, more promotions, more overtime and more training, and better performance evaluations. Yet you are just as qualified, and maybe you are more qualified. Yet straight employees are treated more favorably, just because of their sexual preferences. That is not right, and it's illegal. You cannot be subjected to sexual orientation or gender identity discrimination at work. New York State Law and New York City Law prohibit it.

The New York City Human Rights Law, which applies to people who work in New York City, is the most protective employee rights in this area of the law. The statute protects gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgendered persons. That is because it uses an inclusive definition of the term “gender,” which is deemed to cover a person’s actual or perceived sex, gender identity, self-image, appearance, behavior or expression. It does not make a difference whether the person’s gender identity, self-image, appearance, behavior or expression is different from the concepts traditionally associated with the legal sex assigned to the person at birth. In one case, the court found that there was a hostile environment created by discriminatory acts because of an employee’s sex change operation.

One issue that frequently comes up in sexual orientation cases is whether the employer knows the sexual orientation of the employee. Sexual orientation is not necessarily as obvious as other protected categories, such as race. You may prefer to keep your private life private, and rightly so. It is true that you are protected from discrimination based on your actual or “perceived” gender, as broadly defined the New York City Human Rights. However, if you believe you are being subjected to discrimination because of your sexual orientation, and you have not disclosed what it is, you should consider whether you should inform your employer of your sexual orientation discrimination and the reason for your belief that you are being discriminated against because of your sexual orientation. Your employer cannot retaliate against for a good faith claim that you have been subjected to discrimination.

Sometimes you tell us that you are subjected to a hostile environment based on your sexual orientation at work. People are using those explicit offensive words, they are leaving offensive pictures on your desk, and sending you offensive e-mails. Or they use code words, but you and the harasser know what they mean, you don't have to spell it out when you want to insult someone because they are gay or lesbian.

A hostile environment based on sexual orientation is illegal under New York State Law and New York City Law. In our more than 25 years of experience in employment law, we have represented employees who have been subjected to sexual orientation discrimination and to a hostile environment based on sexual orientation, and we will be your lawyer for negotiations or a court suit in New York State Courts or New York City so that injustice is stopped.

Contact us online or call us at (212) 949-1001 for a free initial consultation today to discuss wheter you have been subjected to sexual orientation discrimination.

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