Sexual orientation discrimination occurs in the workplace when an employer harasses or treats an employee (or potential hire) unfairly based on the employee’s sexual orientation. There are federal laws that protect federal workers against sexual orientation discrimination; however, there are presently no federal laws that protect employees in the private sector from discrimination on the basis of their sexual orientation. However, New York and New Jersey each have laws against sexual orientation discrimination. New Jersey laws also protect employees against gender identity discrimination.
In New York and New Jersey it is illegal for an employer to hire or fire an employee based on his or her sexual orientation. It is also illegal for an employee to be denied higher pay, a promotion, or other preferential treatment merely because the employee is gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, or transsexual. Likewise, it is unlawful for employers to deny employees benefits, training, or time off merely because of the employee’s sexual orientation.
A recurrent situation we have observed is gay and lesbian employees often find themselves in hostile work environments. These situations occur in a number of ways. Employees may deal with offensive or intimidating remarks. Coworkers, or supervisors, may regularly tell offensive jokes. Emails may be circulated that are offensive –intentionally, or not. Gay and lesbian employees may even find themselves segregated on the basis of their sexual orientation. In other words, an employer may purposely place a gay or lesbian employee in a position where he or she has very little contact with customers because of his or her sexual orientation. These situations can be very stressful for victims to deal with and may cause serious emotional distress damage.
If your employer has treated you unfairly because of your sexual orientation, our employment discrimination lawyers can help. Call us at (973) 509-8500 to schedule a free phone consultation.