Unfortunately, LGBT individuals are still not truly protected under Federal and/or state employment laws. LGBT individuals are not able to advance claims of discrimination based upon their sexual orientation, as sexual orientation is not a protected class of individuals under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and all related acts. However, successful claims of sexual discrimination have been brought by LGBT individuals on the basis of gender stereotyping.
Sexual stereotyping involves stereotypical notions about how men and women should behave, dress, talk, and/or look. Oftentimes, this is exactly how LGBT individuals are discriminated against, due almost solely to their non-conformity to perceived gender norms. Just as a woman can ground an action on a claim that men discriminated against her because she did not meet stereotyped expectations of femininity, a man can ground a claim on evidence that other men discriminated against him because he did not meet stereotyped expectations of masculinity. Such discrimination is illegal, and recent trends in federal courts have recognized such gender stereotyping claims as legitimated sex/gender discrimination claims under Title VII.
Until recently, the EEOC did not recognize LGBT rights when investigating charges of discrimination. However, the EEOC office in San Francisco recently made a groundbreaking decision in declaring that transgender individuals may file discrimination claims based upon sexual discrimination. This means that the EEOC has set a precedent for other EEOC offices to investigate such charges instead of immediately dismissing them. While this does not mean that Federal and State courts will begin recognizing LGBT individual's claims for sex discrimination, it is an important step towards such an end result.
Our office has experience in litigating gender stereotyping claims on the behalf of LGBT individuals. If you believe that you have been affected by such illegal discrimination, please contact our office today to schedule a consultation.