LGBTQ+ Worker Protections Under California Labor Law

Find A California Employment Lawyer for LGBTQ+ Discrimination Claims


Under California Employee Protections, sexual orientation should not be the basis of any employment decisions. If you have been discriminated against, harassed, retaliate against, or fired for your sexual orientation, hire a California Employment Attorney to help you sue your boss.


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What Qualifies As LGBTQ+ Discrimination in California?


Willful bigotry towards those who are not heterosexual in orientation is known as sexual orientation discrimination. Discrimination against LGBTQ+ people is commonly referred to as LGBTQ+ discrimination.

Although, by definition, sexual orientation discrimination should include all sorts of prejudice-based discrimination against an employee's sexuality. If there are any references to the subject's sexuality, whether they are considered "straight" or not, they should be counted. Consider knowing about what you might experience during your California attorney search.

While it is usual for a heterosexual employee to discriminate against an LGBTQ+ employee, discrimination can also happen the other way around, with an LGBTQ+ worker discriminating against a heterosexual worker. The LGBTQ+ minority, however, has a long history of persecution and exclusion. Unfortunately, they're usually the ones on the receiving end of it.

Discrimination can start harmlessly enough, but it can quickly grow into serious acts like intentional infliction of emotional or mental distress, physical assault or violence, defamation, or breach of privacy.

Irrespective of how victims identify themselves, discrimination can occur based on both real and perceived sexual orientation. For example, it is still LGBT+ discrimination if a worker believes another worker is a lesbian and discriminates against them as a result (even if the person is not a lesbian or is not out at work as a lesbian).

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What Protects LGBT+ Workers In California?


Fortunately, California has one of the highest concentrations of working LGBT+ people in the country. The California Fair Employment and Housing Act prohibits discrimination based on an employee's sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity (FEHA).


Hiring, promoting, terminating, demoting, or any other act that affects an employee's compensation, benefits, working conditions, or other aspects of their job are all prohibited. In addition, it forbids discrimination based on an employee's gender or failure to adhere to a stereotype or socially formed expectation of how an individual should behave.

The Anti-Discrimination Act of California prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation.


The California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) safeguards LGBTQ+ and gender-nonconforming employees against workplace harassment and abuse. Discrimination based on a person's sex, ethnicity, gender orientation, or gender speech is likewise prohibited under the FEHA.


These employees can initiate a discrimination lawsuit whenever a company recruits five employees—a good amount to compare how one is treated to the rest. Furthermore, under the FEHA, an organization needs to hire one employee for employees to make claims of sexual orientation discrimination.

In the United States, discrimination based on gender and sexual orientation is prohibited. In early 2016, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) brought its first two cases on behalf of employees who had been discriminated against because of their sexual orientation.

Sexual orientation, like other forms of discrimination, is protected under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, sexual orientation discrimination constitutes sex discrimination.


According to the EEOC, the following are some examples of sexual orientation discrimination:

  • On the basis of their sexuality, employees are denied promotions.

  • Target's sexuality is continually discussed at work, and it begins to impede their ability to do tasks.

  • Employees are mistreated because of their gender identity or sexual orientation.

  • Salary and job placement decisions were based on an employee's gender identity or sexual orientation.

Employees who have faced discrimination or bias because of their sexual orientation can now file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Proceedings, negotiated settlements, or lawsuits may become the result of this. In the future, if federal courts rule in favor of the EEOC, workplace LGBTQ+ discrimination cases will have solid claims.

What's The Process of Filing A Complaint in California?


You must be noticing some signs if you have a gut feeling. You don't just wake up one day and realize you're being monitored at work. There must have been some little tell-tale indications that led you to this conclusion.

If this is the case, you should begin gathering evidence to support a future claim.

  • Keep records of any instances of bias (or behavior that could be seen as such). This can be as simple as a folder or spreadsheet containing dates, times, locations, people involved, and a summary of what happened. Even if you're hesitant, try to write down why you think it's discriminatory. This information should be stored somewhere other than the office, such as on your phone or at home.

  • Collect evidence. This can include tangible evidence, internet discussions, and messages from or about the perpetrator or the culprit. Letters, emails, SMS, voicemails, instant messaging (Slack, Skype, iMessage, etc. ), photos, pay stubs, receipts, and so on are all examples. If possible, compile a list of witnesses, such as if a third person was there next to you when the discrimination occurred.

  • Keep track of your case and try to be as detailed as possible. Any proof could help provide extra validation of your reports, making it much easier to move your claim forward in the future. Consider printing off copies of digital correspondence to access it outside of the workplace or storing digital versions in your private email or other accounts.

  • Unfortunately, evidence such as emails or text messages may not always be available. If this happens, you can still show sexual orientation discrimination if you can show a sequence of actions that have a cumulative detrimental impact on an employee's ability to work. You may detect a discriminatory culture at work, which is frequently made up of tiny behaviors that persist due to tolerance.

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  • Notify your manager. When you inform your manager that you believe you are being harassed or discriminated against, it signals that you are serious about your issues and that they should be addressed right away. Any official or legal action you are considering should be shared with them. Remember that while the law binds your employer, it is your responsibility to ensure that your rights are safeguarded.

  • There is a general protocol that must be followed when it comes to sexual orientation discrimination. The first step is to contact your boss. Then, you can submit a complaint with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing if talking to your manager doesn't resolve the problem.

  • After the regulatory body has completed its investigation, you may receive a "right to sue" letter. At this point, you have the option of filing a legal claim in court. Now is the moment to hire an experienced California Labor Lawyer if you haven't already.

  • It's a good idea to file a formal complaint. Whether through the company's internal grievance or complaint process or through a trade union or association, filing a complaint or lawsuit is the initial step in addressing discrimination.

  • You might begin by contacting your company's human resources department. The majority of coworkers' interpersonal issues are dealt with there, but they can also manage more serious cases.

  • Your HR department should be aware of the laws governing discrimination based on protected traits. If they do their job correctly, they will launch an inquiry and issue a punishment as quickly as feasible. It's important to remember that workplace discrimination is criminal, not just a form of misbehavior.

  • In compliance with California law, begin an investigation. The FEHA protects workers from discrimination in the workplace because of their sexual orientation. People can register a discrimination complaint with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) online. This begins a formal inquiry, which starts with determining whether the DFEH can substantiate the charges, which is why it's critical to keep track of discrimination cases and evidence.

  • The DFEH can conduct on-site, phone, and oath interviews, issue formal subpoenas, and seek non-permanent restraining orders. Even though the process can be lengthy, the DFEH attempts to complete all investigations within a year of receiving the complaint.

  • Seek the advice of a California Employment Lawyer. This may appear to be an unnecessary precaution, but knowing your rights is the greatest approach to avoid discrimination in the future. If your company or trade union does not have a formal complaint procedure in place, a lawyer can advise you on other legal options.

  • Because the legal environment surrounding sexual orientation and LGBTQ+ rights is currently in flux, a legal team with expertise in these areas may be very beneficial. If you're having problems finding a California Labor Lawyer who can address your unique concerns, private businesses provide referral services to help you narrow down your options.

Find An LGBTQ+ Discrimination Attorney in California


Gency.org can help you find a Contingency Lawyer for your Employment Cases in California. No win, no fees! You can complete our submission form for a free case review.

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