20 May 2009
Avoiding Sexual Orientation and Gender Discrimination in the Workplace
Tom Wilbanks has been employed at ACME Co. for five years. He currently holds the position of Team Leader in his department. He had been living his entire life in secret. After a discussion with his domestic partner, he decided to let everyone know that he was gay. Since he “came out”, he has suffered abuse and mistreatment from his subordinates, co-workers and other staff members. He was singled out from the other team leaders by being forced to work 60 to 70 hours a week, without overtime, while the other leaders worked their regular hours. There were gay slurs written on the bathroom walls about him, circulated through emails, letters stuffed in his locker, and he was threatened with physical abuse. Finally, Tom could no longer endure the emotional turmoil and decided to go to management about the situation.
The ACME Co. prides itself on being a leader in diversity and non-discrimination hiring practices. Employees of the ACME Co. are responsible for helping to provide a safe and comfortable work environment. Any case of discrimination is investigated thoroughly and promptly and in the strictest confidence. Aside from it being against federal law, the company enforces a “Zero Tolerance” policy on discrimination. Federal discrimination laws are established by acts of Congress. Federal discrimination laws make it illegal for employers to discriminate against employees and job applicants in any aspect of employment based on age, disability, national origin, race, religion, genetics, or gender. Some states refer to discrimination laws as Fair Employment Practices (FEP) laws. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employers from discriminating against applicants and employees on the basis of race or color, religion, sex, pregnancy, childbirth, and national origin. It also prohibits employers from retaliating against an applicant or employee who asserts his or her rights under the law. Title VII prohibition against discrimination applies to all terms, conditions, and privileges of employment, including: hiring, firing, compensation, benefits, job assignments, shift assignments, promotion, and discipline. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) enforces Title VII. Sexual orientation discrimination includes being treated differently or harassed because of your real or perceived sexual orientation, whether gay, lesbian, bisexual, or straight (heterosexual). There is no federal law that specifically outlaws workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in the private sector, although federal workers are currently protected from such discrimination. The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which is the sexual orientation discrimination law, has been successful. Sixteen states and the District of Columbia have laws that prohibit sexual orientation discrimination in public and private jobs. -California- Nevada
-Connecticut- New Hampshire
-Hawaii- New Jersey
-Illinois- New Mexico
-Maine- New York
-Maryland- Rhode Island
Oregon prohibits sexual orientation discrimination in private employment. Seven states have laws prohibiting sexual orientation discrimination in public workplaces: -Colorado
Over 180 cities and counties prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in at least some workplaces. For those states that do not have these laws in place for sexual orientation discrimination, there are some legal options that can be pursued, such as legal action on the following bases: -intentional or negligent infliction of emotional distress
-assault and battery
-invasion of privacy
-interference with an...