Discrimination Based on Sexual or Gender Orientation – Know Your Rights

April 28, 2021
The Law Firm of J.W. Stafford

While our country’s values continue to change, employees still face discrimination every day. Unfortunately, many of the employees who experience discrimination are unsure of their rights. Most people understand that you cannot be discriminated against based on race, gender, or religion. Still, many are unclear as to what rights they have if they are discriminated against on the basis of their sexual or gender orientation. If you feel that you have been discriminated against, a Maryland employment lawyer can help you understand your rights and possibly get you the compensation you deserve. 

Sexual and Gender Orientation Discrimination Under Maryland Law

Unlike many other states, Maryland employment law expressly prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. As a result, it is against the law to refuse to hire, fire, or otherwise discriminate against anyone who may be or is perceived to be gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender. Discrimination can include the following: 

  • Allowing coworkers to make disparaging comments or jokes concerning your sexual orientation or gender identity
  • Allowing coworkers to threaten or bully LGTBQ employees
  • Declining to hire a qualified applicant on the basis of their gender identity or sexual orientation
  • Employers giving preferential treatment to employees based on their sexual or gender orientation
  • Employers penalizing LGBTQ employees with unjustifiably negative performance reviews 

In short, your employer should treat you no differently than any other employee regardless of your gender identity or sexual orientation. If you have suffered discrimination in any form, a Maryland employment lawyer can advise you about your options. 

Sexual and Gender Orientation Discrimination Under Federal Law

A recent Supreme Court decision from last year (Bostock vs. Clayton County Georgia) reviewed whether an employee can be discriminated against under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. At issue was whether the Act’s prohibition against discrimination on the basis of “sex” could include sexual orientation and gender discrimination. In a 6-3 decision, the Supreme Court concluded that sex discrimination includes discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. However, it remains unclear as to what extent these protections extend to members of the LGBTQ community, particularly with regard to religiously-affiliated employers. Regardless, the Bostock decision is a major victory for workplace equality when it comes to sexual orientation and gender identity. If you aren’t sure if you have been discriminated against or whether your employer is protected, we recommend that you discuss your case with a Maryland employment lawyer as soon as possible. 

If You Have Been Discriminated Against, Speak With a Maryland Employment Lawyer

If you have already been terminated or were denied employment, your best option may be to consult with a Maryland employment lawyer for guidance. Otherwise, here are some steps you should take to protect your rights: 

  • Carefully document any incidents or other situations that have led you to believe you are being discriminated against. Be sure to include the date, time, and any other pertinent details, including potential witnesses. 
  • Review your employer’s discrimination policy. Even if it doesn’t include provisions pertaining specifically to discrimination on the basis of sexual or gender orientation, you should follow the steps provided for filing a formal complaint with your employer. 
  • File a formal complaint with your employer. Your employer cannot be held accountable if they can demonstrate that they were unaware that you were being discriminated against. 

We realize that these may be difficult steps to take, particularly if your employer is directly involved in the discriminatory behavior. Many people worry that they will lose their jobs if they file a discrimination complaint, and rightfully so. Even if you haven’t been terminated, a Maryland employment lawyer can provide you with valuable guidance throughout the process and help you get compensation if your employer retaliates. 

Contact a Maryland Employment Attorney Today

If your employer has discriminated against you based on your gender identity or sexual orientation, it is critical to understand that you have rights. You may be entitled to compensation for lost wages, emotional distress, and other related expenses. Your employer may be ordered to halt any discriminatory practices and even pay punitive damages. If you have been terminated, you may even be able to get your job back. 

At the Law Firm of J.W. Stafford, we fight for the rights of those who have been discriminated against by their employers. To schedule a consultation with Maryland employment attorney Jay Stafford, contact us today at 410-514-6099 to discuss how we can help protect your rights.