The number of cases of employment discrimination based on sexual orientation filed with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) increased from 636 in 2001, to 714 in 2005 and to 821 in 2008. In 2011, the number of sexual orientation employment discrimination cases filed with DFEH spiked to 1,104. This drastic increase may be attributed to the advocacy of equality in marriage laws in California and in other states.
Under federal law, it is illegal for an employer to discriminate against an applicant or employee based on his or her national origin, disability, age, genetic information, religion, race, color and sex. Noticeably absent from this list of protected groups is sexual orientation.
The California Fair Employment and Housing Act outlaws harassment and discrimination against employees, union members and candidates for employment, based on the following protected classes:
California is one of 20 states that prohibit employment discrimination based on sexual orientation.
California law prohibiting employment discrimination based on sexual orientation protects all categories of sexual orientation, including those who are straight, lesbian, gay or bisexual. Discrimination on the basis of perceived sexual orientation is prohibited as well. In 2000, California extended this protection to independent contractors (including temporary employees from temp agencies), business visitors, such as service and repair persons, and clients of professionals, including doctors, attorneys and accountants.
Employment discrimination manifests itself in every aspect of the employment process — from hiring to training and firing. Employers may not discriminate in advertising, recruitment, promotions, transfers and layoffs. It is also illegal to treat members of protected classes differently in their wages or benefits.
If you or a loved has suffered discrimination at work because of your sexual orientation, contact our office to schedule a free consultation with our experienced employment discrimination attorney.