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California Sexual Orientation Discrimination Laws: Common Questions


If you are being discriminated against on the job due to your sexual orientation, you're not alone. While California and federal laws protect employees from illegal sexual orientation discrimination, recent statistics show that this type of discrimination and harassment still occurs in the workplace.

While it may be difficult to replace the dignity that you have lost due to this common type of workplace discrimination, know that California law is on your side. This article answers questions regarding California's sexual orientation discrimination laws which can help you understand your employee rights.

Sexual Orientation Discrimination in California: FAQs

What is sexual orientation discrimination?

Sexual orientation discrimination in the workplace comes in a variety of forms, but generally occurs when an employee is treated differently by an employer or coworker solely because of his or her real or perceived sexual orientation; whether the victim is gay (homosexual), lesbian, bisexual, asexual, pansexual or heterosexual.

Discrimination due to sexual orientation can also occur based on an individual's association with someone of a different sexual orientation. The negative treatment that a victim is subjected to can be anything from unfair performance reviews, write-ups, being assigned to inferior shifts or duties, workplace bullying and harassment - and even termination.

What are California sexual orientation discrimination laws?

The California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) prohibits discrimination and harassment due to sexual orientation in employment. The FEHA also makes it illegal for an employer to retaliate against an employee for protesting illegal discrimination related to sexual orientation discrimination.

Provisions in the California Government Code and FEHA offer similar employee rights protections to individuals of other protected classes, including those suffering from gender identity discrimination at work.

What is the difference between sexual orientation discrimination and gender identity discrimination?

An individual's sexual orientation only refers to whether he or she is homosexual, heterosexual, bisexual, etc., but one's gender identity refers to a person's own self-identification as a man or woman or male or female, regardless of his or her anatomical sex at birth. That said, both types of discrimination, whether due to gender identity or sexual orientation, are illegal under the FEHA.

What are some sexual orientation discrimination examples?

Workplace discrimination, harassment and bullying is not uncommon, and should always be dealt with accordingly. Some typical sexual orientation discrimination examples include:

  • Denying a job to an applicant due to his or her real or perceived sexual orientation.
  • Denying an employee a promotion, raise or benefits due to his or her real or perceived sexual orientation.
  • Issuing poor performance reviews due to an employee's real or perceived sexual orientation.
  • Denying an employee access to ongoing training programs due to his or her real or perceived sexual orientation.
  • Harassing or retaliating against an employee for filing a sexual orientation discrimination complaint, or helping another employee file a complaint.
  • Termination of an employee due to his or her real or perceived sexual orientation.

If you recognize any of these signs of discrimination at work, contact an experienced California employment attorney right away.

Sexual Orientation Discrimination in California: Resources

  • The California Fair Employment and Housing Act
  • LGBT Discrimination in the Workplace Statistics - Infographic
  • LGBT Organizations in Los Angeles
  • Sexual Orientation Discrimination in California: What LGBT Employees Should Know

If you feel your employer is subjecting you to workplace discrimination due to your sexual orientation or gender identity, know that your rights are protected under California law. Contact the passionate California sexual orientation discrimination attorneys at Hennig Ruiz for your free consultation today.

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