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Steps LGBTQ Workers Can Take If Experiencing Discrimination in the Workplace

Despite the advances that the LGBTQ community has made, they still often are discriminated against in the workplace, especially LGBTQ people of color. But you can stand up for yourself and fight back against an employer that is discriminating against you. The law is on your side. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act makes discrimination illegal against workers based on their race, sex, religion, or place of birth. The Supreme Court rules that those protections also extend to gender, identity, and orientation which means that LGBTQ workers are also covered by the Civil Rights Act.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is a federal agency whose purpose is to uphold the Civil Rights Act. If you file a complaint against your employer with the EEOC your employer will be investigated and face stiff penalties if the EEOC finds that the employer is discriminating against you. Your employer also may face state charges. The EEOC cooperates with state labor authorities in 44 states. They send copies of all complaints and supporting documents to the state labor authorities when a complaint is filed against a business in that state so your employer will be investigated by the EEOC and by your state.

Examples Of Workplace Discrimination

Some common ways that LGBTQ people are discriminated against include:

Being Given Bad Shifts

Shift workers who find that their  hours are cut or that they are given shifts they cannot work on purpose are experiencing discrimination.

Insults, Slurs, or Offensive Questions

53 percent of LGBTQ workers have said they experienced insulting “jokes” about gay and lesbian people at work, according to the Human Rights Campaign. “Jokes” about bisexual and transgender people are less common but do happen. Insults, “jokes”, slurs, and offensive questions are always discrimination.

Cutting Your Hours Without Warning

If you work hourly and your hours keep getting cut while your coworkers are given more hours or overtime, that’s discrimination.

Misgendering you on purpose

After you have made your pronouns and gender clear, if your boss or coworkers keep referring to you as the wrong gender or using the wrong pronouns, that’s discrimination.

Filing A Workplace Discrimination Claim

It can be difficult to stand up for yourself at work if you’re being harassed or discriminated against. But you are helping not just yourself but every LGBTQ person that works for that company or will work there in the future. Before you file a complaint with the EEOC, give your boss and HR department one chance to stop the harassment and discrimination. Create a list of every discriminatory thing that has been done to you from cutting shifts to being insulted by your coworkers. Take the list to your boss and ask your boss to address the situation. If your boss refuses to do anything about what you’re experiencing, then you should go to the EEOC’s website and file a complaint. Make sure to submit any proof or documentation of the discrimination that you have.

You can also file a complaint on the state level too. In Georgia, you can file a discrimination complaint with the state attorney general’s  Georgia Commission on Equal Opportunity (GCEO). When you file a discrimination complaint on the state level in Georgia, It will be dual filed with the EEOC, that way you don’t have to file two complaints.

Penalties For Discrimination

If you have been denied a raise or a promotion because of discrimination you may receive a lump sum of money for back wages. You also could receive money for pain and suffering if you’ve experienced harassment. Your boss could face heavy financial penalties and criminal charges for discrimination.



Employment Discrimination in the Workplace

Protections from Discrimination


Employment Complaint Form