Discrimination by Gender or Sexual Orientation
Discrimination in the workplace is an unfortunate reality that creates a work environment so hostile that an employee may find themselves unable to perform their job on a day to day basis. Discrimination can come in many different forms, and discrimination by gender or sexual orientation is one form that many workers across the United States face in a variety of different industries.
Discrimination by gender means discriminating against someone because they are of a certain gender, and this type of discrimination happens to men as well as women across many different professional fields. This type of harassment or discrimination can be shown in a variety of different ways, from not allowing a person to prosper in their field due to their gender to making repeated offensive comments or gestures to a person that relate to their gender.
Discrimination by sexual orientation refers to workplace discrimination and harassment that is centered on a person’s sexual orientation, and this type of discrimination can happen to homosexual employees, bisexual employees, or even heterosexual employees. A person may not be denied employment or a safe and comfortable place to do their job every day simply because of their sexual orientation in the United States.
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 created equal employment opportunity laws that protect workers of all genders and sexual orientations from harassment and discrimination in the workplace, and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, or EEOC, is a federal agency put into place to ensure that these laws are being upheld.
What is Considered Gender or Sexual Orientation Discrimination or Harassment?
Many different actions can be considered discrimination or harassment in regards to sexual orientation or gender. Some common actions are:
- Repeated offensive remarks or comments related to sexual orientation or gender
- Denying an employee a promotion, job assignment, or further employment due to their sexual orientation or gender
- Making lewd gestures or jokes that refer to a person’s sexual orientation or gender
In order to be considered harassment or discrimination, these actions must be carried out repeatedly or to an extent that the employee no longer feels comfortable or able to perform their daily tasks at their workplace.
If an isolated incident of an offhand comment or simple teasing occurs, it may not be considered discrimination under law unless the situation is particularly serious. Because these situations are normally very different from one another, these cases are often reviewed on a case by case basis to ensure a fair solution is found.
What To Do If You Are Being Discriminated Against
If an employee finds themselves being harassed or discriminated against due to their gender or sexual orientation, and their workplace has turned into a hostile work environment, there are some steps they should take to ensure the behavior stops and they can feel comfortable in their place of employment again. First, the offended employee should ask the offending party to stop the behavior, as this can help to bring the situation to light in regards to the offending employee. In some instances, the employee discriminating or harassing their co-worker may not realize that their actions have created a hostile work environment, and this could be a simple solution to the problem at hand.
If asking the offending employee to stop does not work in remedying the problem, an employee should then seek the assistance of their manager or supervisor. Those in a management position are required to uphold equal employment opportunity laws in their workplace, and neglecting this duty can result in a lawsuit. Normally, supervisors and those in a managerial position within a company will take these cases very seriously and do all they can to put a stop to these behaviors as quickly as possible.
Should the offending party be in a managerial position, or a manager fails to stop the problem, a discrimination case should then be filed with an employee’s human resources department. The role of a human resources department is organizing employees and making sure that an optimal work environment is kept, and filing a complaint with human resources when gender or sexual orientation discrimination is experienced is often a very effective step to take in ensuring the problem ceases.
If none of the previous steps prove to help a situation of discrimination, a lawsuit may then be filed against a company or place of employment for sexual orientation or gender discrimination. People of all orientations and genders have the right to a comfortable, safe, and fair work environment under United States federal law, and compensation could be sought if an employee is denied their right for any reason. Prolonged exposure to discrimination due to sexual orientation or gender can cause a person to experience psychological trauma or mental anguish, making these situations particularly important for all employees.
If an employee finds that their previous steps taken do not work to stop the offending behaviors, and a lawsuit is necessary, they should always seek the assistance of a skilled attorney to help them with their case. In the state of Maryland, an attorney will be able to understand all of the workplace laws of the state, and represent their client in a way that ensures the best possible lawsuit outcome. Also, they will be able to inform their client of their likelihood of winning a lawsuit, and help them each step of the way to make sure the employee knows their rights and how they relate to the legal process.