Great strides have been made in the area of LGBTQ+ rights, including rights in the workplace. LGBTQ+ individuals in Portland deserve to have a safe environment to work in where they can perform their job duties without facing discrimination or harassment based on their sexual orientation.
What is sexual orientation discrimination and harassment?
Federal law, specifically Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, prohibits discrimination and harassment in the workplace based on sexual orientation that creates a hostile work environment. Some examples of harassment include making offensive statements about sexual orientation or transgender status.
Supervisors, whether they are your supervisor or a supervisor in another department can commit harassment based on sexual orientation. Co-workers can also commit harassment based on sexual orientation. Even non-employees, such as patrons, can commit harassment based on sexual orientation.
You also cannot be discriminated against in the workplace based on your sexual orientation. This means you cannot be fired, looked over for a job opening or promotion, denied benefits or see your pay reduced based on your sexual orientation. Employers are prohibited from making adverse employment decisions based on sexual orientation.
The Supreme Court’s stance on sexual orientation discrimination
Sexual orientation discrimination or harassment is related to discrimination based on sex. The Supreme Court has issued a ruling stating that firing someone based on their sexual orientation goes against the prohibition on discrimination based on sex as found in the plain text of Title VII. The Court stated that you cannot discriminate based on sexual orientation without also discriminating based on sex.
What does not constitute harassment under federal law?
Some people prefer to be referred to using a specific pronoun. For example, they may prefer being referred to as “they” instead of “he” or “she.” Accidentally forgetting to do this one time does not automatically violate federal law.
Mere teasing or an offhand remark that is relatively minor also does not create a hostile work environment unless it happens often or is otherwise pervasive in a way that it leads to the employer making an adverse employment decision against the target of the statements.
Learn more about filing a discrimination claim
If you are facing discrimination or harassment in the workplace based on sexual orientation it may seem like you are David facing Goliath. Still, you have rights you can assert against those harassing or discriminating against you. Discussing your situation with an attorney can help you decide whether you want to file a discrimination claim to protect your rights.