LGBTQ rights have been a big topic in the national news this year. In June, the Supreme Court ruled that Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which outlaws sexual discrimination in the workplace, does cover gay or transgender people, even though it does not explicitly say so.
Earlier this week, a federal judge granted a preliminary injunction to block the government’s attempt to remove LGBTQ people’s health care discrimination protection enshrined in the Affordable Care Act.
Fortunately, in California, the laws have been more explicit for a long time. LGBTQ rights have been protected by law since the late 1950s under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), with additional legislation clarifying things and increasing protection during subsequent years. The act specifically prohibits discrimination by employers based on sex, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression, among other things.
Discrimination can take many forms, not just direct harassment. The FEHA covers people’s rights at all stages of the employment process. It covers how a job is advertised, the interviewing and hiring process, working conditions, pay, training, promotion and firing. It applies to all employers who have at least five employees on a regular basis. Specific religious institutions may be exempt from the legislation.
As a California employee, you have a right to a workplace free from harassment or discrimination. Seek legal help from an experienced employment law attorney if this has not been the case. While you may fear that reporting it leads to your employer or colleagues’ retaliating, this is also illegal and protected by the FEHA and on a federal level by Title VII.