Regardless of whether you are transgender, lesbian, gay or bisexual, you have the right to be free from discrimination, harassment, and retaliation in the workplace. The law has been slow to catch up to modern times. Not even half of states nor the federal government have protections against sexual orientation discrimination as they do against discrimination because of race, religion, disability or gender. Fortunately, California is one of the states that went the extra mile to protect your right to a workplace free from discrimination.
You do not have to tolerate such treatment. If you feel as though a co-worker, manager or supervisor is discriminating against you or harassing you because of your sexual orientation, you have rights.
But before making a complaint, it makes sense to prepare.
Gather the evidence you need for your claim
You may be like other LGBT employees in that you were happy in your job at one time. Your managers and supervisors applauded you for your work and your performance reviews showed it. Then, something happened, and your work environment became increasingly hostile. Finally, you reached a point where you can’t take it anymore, and you want to make a complaint.
Making any type of discrimination or harassment claim requires evidence. While you explore your legal options, it may help to take the following actions:
- Gather your favorable performance reviews and any communications indicating your employer’s satisfaction with your work.
- Make a list of people in your workplace who witnessed the abuse you deal with at work.
- Gather as much evidence of the discrimination and harassment you face as possible. This evidence could be in the form of paper, emails and texts.
- Review the company’s policies regarding these behaviors. Pay particular attention to reporting processes and grievance procedures. Often, there is a contact person to whom you should take your complaint.
If you do take your complaint to the company, and it is not handled to your satisfaction, you will probably need all of the above documentation, along with any you may receive from the company regarding your complaint.
Going outside the company for help
If you don’t receive the response from your employer that you hoped, you may need to go outside the company to get the help you need. Since California does have a law on the books specifically addressing discrimination and harassment based on your sexual orientation, you have options. An experienced employment law attorney can prove invaluable in advising you of your rights and helping you find the best solution possible.