Is Sexual Orientation a Protected Class for Employment in California?

Jul 07, 2022

Both state and federal laws protect employees from harassment and discrimination in the workplace. Employment laws prohibit employers from discriminating against employees due to their age, race, gender, religion, and/or disability or medical condition (including pregnancy). But do these laws also protect employees who experience discrimination because of their sexual orientation? Our California employment law attorneys explain how the law protects you.

Federal Laws Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII) includes employment discrimination against an individual on the basis of sexual orientation or transgender status. Therefore, federal law prohibits employers from discriminating against an employee due to their sexual orientation or gender identity – regardless of local laws.

California Laws Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination
In addition to Title VII, many states have enacted laws that prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation. For example, California has the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) that makes it unlawful for an employer to discriminate against an employee based on sexual orientation.

Under the FEHA, employers are also prohibited from discriminating against employees based on their gender identity. Gender identity refers to a person’s self-identification as male or female, regardless of their biological sex. This protection applies to transgender employees as well as those who do not conform to traditional gender stereotypes.

What If My Employer Has Violated These Laws?
If you believe that your employer has violated these laws, you may be able to file a claim with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH). The DFEH is responsible for investigating claims of discrimination in the workplace. If the agency finds that your employer has discriminated against you, it may order your employer to pay damages or take other corrective action.

You should also consider speaking with an experienced employment law attorney. An attorney can help you understand your rights and options under the law. Attorneys can also help you gather evidence and build a strong case against your employer.

Our team at Hennig Kramer Ruiz & Singh, LLP is here to help you! Contact our Los Angeles employment law attorneys today at (213) 310-8301 ( to schedule a consultation!

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