Steps LGBTQ Workers Can Take If They are experiencing Discrimination in the workplace
LGTBQ+ people are subjected to harassment and discrimination at work every day but most
are too afraid to report their employers. They may need their jobs and worry about how they
would make ends meet if they got fired. Or they may be worried about retaliation if their
employer is held accountable for the discrimination and harassment. But you should know
that if you are LGBTQ+ you have a legal right to work in a place where you feel safe and are
not discriminated against.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act contains workplace protections against harassment and
discrimination. Title VII says that employers can’t discriminate against people based on where
they are from, their race, their sex, or their religion. The Supreme Court said that the
protections of Title VII also apply to LGBTQ+ people. It’s a Federal crime for employers to
discriminate against or harass you.
If you’re experiencing discrimination at work because you’re LGBTQ+ you can file a complaint
with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The EEOC was created to help protect
workers from harassment and discrimination. And the EEOC has an agreement in place with 44
states to share information about employers with the state labor boards in those states. That
means if you live in one of those states and file a complaint the state will receive copies of
any documents that you file with the EEOC.
Examples Of Workplace Discrimination
The most often reported types of discrimination that LGBTQ+ people face are:
Not Getting Raises Or Promotions
If you have not received a regularly scheduled raise or a promotion that you have earned but
other people have received raises or promotions that is usually due to discrimination. You may
also start receiving negative performance reviews only when a raise or an opportunity for a
promotion comes up.
Insults, Slurs, or Offensive Questions
If your coworkers are telling offensive “jokes”, using slurs for LGTQ+ people, passing around
offensive imagery, or in any other way making you feel unsafe or targeted at your job that’s
not allowed. You’re not being “too sensitive” even if they say you are. That’s discrimination
and you don’t have to tolerate it.
Misgendering you on purpose
If you’re a transgender person and have made your preferred pronouns clear but your
coworkers or boss refuse to use your correct pronouns or if they insist on using your dead
name even though you have made it clear you don’t go by that name that’s discrimination.
Filing A Workplace Discrimination Claim
Before you file a complaint with the EEOC you need to give your employer an opportunity to
stop the discrimination. There is a chance that they might not be aware of what you are going
through. So you need to create a detailed list of all of the experiences of discrimination and
harassment that have happened to you. Make sure that you include what happened and who
was involved as well as when it happened. Then present that list to your boss and demand
that they take action. If your boss doesn’t want to help you or seems reluctant to hold anyone
accountable, then you can go to the EEOC’s website to file a complaint.
You can also file a claim on the local level too level as well. In Washington, D.C., you can file
a discrimination complaint with the DC Office of Human Rights. Your claim on the state level
will also be dual-field with the EEOC and vice versa, so you don’t need to send the same
Penalties For Discrimination
When employers violate the Civil Rights Act there are stiff penalties. Your employer could
have to pay fines of more than $10,000 or face criminal charges. If you were denied money
because you weren’t given a promotion or a raise you were owed you could receive a lump
sum of money for back pay. You also could receive money for pain and suffering.