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Discriminated Against For Sexual Orientation? Here's What To Do

June 29, 2021

Harassment or discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation was included in anti-discrimination protection under Title VII in 2017. This move established that discrimination based on sexual orientation is a form of sex discrimination, which is an already protected category.

If you've been discriminated against for sexual orientation, read on to study what employee rights you have and what you can do to claim them. Let's start with the definition of sexual orientation discrimination:

What is Sexual Orientation Discrimination?

Sexual orientation discrimination refers to treating someone differently because of their perceived or actual sexual orientation, such as for being gay, lesbian, straight, pansexual, asexual, or bisexual. Regardless of whether the perception of someone's sexual orientation is correct or not, if they're treated differently for this sole reason, they're believed to be discriminated against.

The discrimination may also occur based on a person's association or support for an individual of a different sexual orientation.

Some simple examples can be that you are not hired or promoted, are wrongfully terminated, or face other negative employment actions for having a sexual orientation. Most commonly, you may begin to be treated differently once you come out as homosexual to others at work. So what can you do when faced with a situation like this? Let's find out:

What to Do When Faced with Sexual Orientation Discrimination?

While many US states have no laws banning sexual orientation discrimination, thankfully, Illinois is not among them. If you have been discriminated against due to your actual or perceived sexual orientation, you'll be interested in knowing that the Illinois Human Rights Act (IHRA) prohibits harassment or discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. As a plaintiff, you can file discrimination, retaliation, or harassment cases in the state court. Follow these steps to get started:

  1. Gather and preserve available evidence of discrimination, such as phone messages or emails.

  2. Compile a list of witnesses.

  3. Go through your company's discrimination policies and information about reporting processes, contractual employee rights, and grievance procedures.

  4. Report the issue to an appropriate department in your company, such as HR.

  5. Collect and preserve copies of any favorable employment reviews and congratulatory emails.

  6. Preserve the documents or evidence against discriminatory offenses you collect at your home so that your employer cannot destroy or alter them to avoid legal trouble.

  7. File Your Compliant.

Hire an Employee Rights Attorney

While the above-mentioned steps may sound easy, preparing and filing a claim against sexual orientation discrimination is never easy. Since the discrimination type has only been recently included in the sex discrimination law, and that too in a limited number of states, you need to stay fully prepared and not take any chances.

An experienced employee rights attorney in Illinois can be of great help. At the Law Office of Michael Smith, we have successfully represented gay clients in the Illinois Department of Human Rights. To book your free initial consultation, contact us today.