Your sexual orientation is a very personal matter that may take years for you to acknowledge and get comfortable with. When your employer decides to treat you unfairly or harass you because of your sexual orientation, that is discrimination and it is illegal. It does not matter whether you are homosexual, heterosexual, or bisexual, you have a right to live your life and love who you love. For the past 25 years, the experienced attorneys at the Derek Smith Law Group in Philadelphia have helped people just like you get the justice they deserve.
What Is Discrimination Based on Sexual Orientation in Philadelphia?
Sexual Orientation harassment in Philadelphia occurs when an employee or job applicant is treated unfairly or harassed by an employer, CEO, supervisor/manager, co-worker, client/customer, vendor, or other non-employee for being homosexual, heterosexual, or bi-sexual. Federal laws label this as a form of sex discrimination and prohibit this type of behavior under laws protecting sex discrimination. Local Philadelphia laws also prohibit sexual orientation discrimination, which extends to all members of the LGBTQ community, including those that identify as queer or are transgender.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits sex discrimination against employees or job applicants who work with companies of 15 or more employees. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) includes sexual orientation as a form of sex discrimination.
The Philadelphia Fair Practices Ordinance protects employees in Philadelphia companies from experiencing sexual orientation discrimination in the workplace.
To pursue a lawsuit against your employer for sexual orientation discrimination, you must produce evidence of your claim. This can come in the form of direct evidence, disparate evidence, or policy evidence.
- Direct Evidence. Direct evidence is when there is no guessing as to why you were treated negatively by your employer. This smoking gun is the verbal or written comment that actually states you were treated poorly based on your sexual orientation. This can be said or written to you or you can be told it was said about you and see an email sent to another person about you.
- Disparate Evidence. Disparate evidence occurs when a direct connection can be made between the discriminatory treatment and your sexual orientation. This is a cause and effect relationship that often displays a pattern of unfair treatment by the company against employees or job applicants that are homosexual, heterosexual, or bi-sexual.
- Policy Evidence. Policy evidence occurs when a policy is discriminatory on its own. Simply following the policy will lead to sexual orientation discrimination.
Sexual orientation discrimination in the workplace can come in many forms. It can be very subtle, such as maybe not being given the promotion you applied for, or much more blatant, such as being told that you are not welcomed because of your sexual orientation. Here are some examples of how sexual orientation can appear in the workplace:
- Your boss refuses to put you on a project because the client is homophobic and does not want a gay employee working on the project
- Your co-worker sends emails laced with LGBTQ slurs that you have made clear offend you
- Your supervisor terminates you because you complained to HR that he was harassing you for being heterosexual and not accepting his advances
- The company has a policy that expects everyone to post pictures of their spouses, but you do not want to be out at work and post a picture of you with your same-sex spouse
- Your company will not offer your spouse benefits because they do not believe in same-sex marriages, even though it is a legal union
- Your supervisor tells you that you do not act “gay enough” and that he would like to see you be more “true to yourself”
- You co-worker outs you to the entire company in an email
- You were passed over for a promotion because you are a Lesbian
- You were denied the use of your vacation days for your same-sex marriage but your co-worker who just had a heterosexual marriage was given time off without having to even use her vacation days and was paid
- You are asked your sexual orientation at a job interview
- You’re not gay, but your boss thinks you are and keeps asking how your boyfriend is doing, even though you have corrected him several times and asked him to stop because it makes you uncomfortable
If you are filing a Title VII claim for sex discrimination, you will file the claim with the EEOC. The EEOC has a time limit of 300 days to file the claim in Philadelphia. They will investigate the claim to make sure it fits within the guidelines of sex discrimination and issue a Right to Sue letter that gives 90 days to file the complaint in federal court.
If you have a claim under the Philadelphia Fair Practices Ordinance, you have a time limit of 1 year to file the claim with eh Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations.
If you decide to bring a lawsuit against your employer for sexual orientation discrimination, it is because you want relief. The courts are ready to offer this relief in various ways, such as:
- Reinstatement of employment and/or benefits
- Reimbursement of benefit premiums
- Reimbursement of medical and other related expenses
- Reassignment or termination of employee responsible for the discriminatory behavior
- Reviewing and revamping of policies
- Attorney’s fees
- Back pay
- Future pay
- Emotional distress
- Pain and suffering
- Punitive damages
A sexual orientation discrimination lawsuit can last anywhere from 4 to 6 months to a year or longer, depending on the details of your case. If your employer is willing to negotiate a fair settlement, your case may be over within 4 to 6 months. However, if your employer refuses to negotiate and you must go to trial, the trial preparation can take anywhere from 8 months to a year or longer. The trial may then take another few days to several weeks or longer until a judgment is entered by the court.
As you decide on your next move, there are a few things you can do to help move your sexual orientation claim along.
- Contact an experienced sexual orientation attorney immediately.
- If you are still employed, do not quit until you consult with your attorney.
- If your company has an HR department, file a complaint for sexual orientation discrimination in writing.
- If your company has a sexual orientation discrimination policy, follow it.
- Gather evidence. Document every incident, including what occurred, where and when it occurred, who was involved, and any witnesses.
- Do not waste time. Your time to file a claim is limited. Do not wait until it is too late.
Contact Our Experienced Philadelphia Sexual Orientation Discrimination Attorneys for Your Free Consultation
You have a right to work without being treated unfairly or harassed because of your sexual orientation. If you are the victim of sexual orientation discrimination in the workplace in Philadelphia, the experienced attorneys at the Derek Smith Law Group (one of FindLaw’s top employment discrimination firms in Philadelphia) can help. We have helped our clients win over $165,000,000 and we want to help you. Contact us today at (215) 391-4790 for a free consultation. We do not collect any money until you win your case.
Different Types of Workplace Discrimination Cases We Handle:
- Race Discrimination
- Color Discrimination
- National Origin Discrimination
- Religion Discrimination
- Age (over 40) Discrimination
- Disability Discrimination
- Pregnancy Discrimination
- Gender or Sex Discrimination
- Genetic Information Discrimination
- Equal Pay/Compensation Discrimination
- Ethnic Discrimination
- LGBT Discrimination
- Hair Discrimination