Despite several U.S. Supreme Court decisions in recent years protecting the rights of LGBTQ individuals along with Colorado laws protecting LGBTQ rights, discrimination against these individuals persist. This is especially true of discrimination and harassment against LGBTQ individuals in the workplace.
The U.S. Supreme Court declared that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 applied to LGBTQ people, making workplace discrimination against these individuals illegal.
Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, employers cannot discriminate against workers due to that worker’s sexual orientation or gender identity. This applies to hiring and training practices, firing employees, promoting or demoting employees, disciplining employees, wage and hour practices and the offering of fringe benefits or conditions of employment.
In addition, employers cannot create or tolerate severe or ongoing harassment in the workplace due to an employee’s sexual orientation or gender identity.
Workplace discrimination persists
Despite changes to federal law, LGBTQ people still experience widespread discrimination in the workplace.
A May 2021 survey of LGBTQ adults found that 45.5% of workers surveyed stated they experienced adverse employment actions, including being fired or harassed due to their sexual orientation or gender identity. Of these individuals, 31.1% reported this discrimination or harassment took place within the past five years.
More than 50% of LGBTQ employees surveyed reported that the discrimination or harassment they experienced in the workplace was motivated by an employer’s or co-worker’s religious beliefs.
Many LGBTQ workers surveyed stated they had to “stay in the closet” or even alter their physical appearance to avoid being discriminated against or harassed in the workplace. Many ended up quitting their jobs or considered quitting their jobs due to discrimination or harassment.
It is highly unfortunate that LGBTQ are still experiencing widespread and ongoing workplace discrimination and harassment, despite changes in law meant to protect them from such actions. But LGBTQ individuals do have recourse. They can report the discrimination or harassment to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission for resolution and might even pursue a lawsuit if appropriate.