Steps LGBTQ+ Workers Can Take if they are Experiencing Discrimination in the Workplace

April 22, 2022

A guest blog post by Cendy Moliere at Employment Law Help

Members of the LGBTQ+ community are often targets of discrimination and harassment at work. For some, the experience is so bad that they feel like they have no choice but to leave their job to preserve their mental health. But you should never be driven out of a job by discrimination. It is actually  a violation of Federal law for employers to discriminate against you based on your sexual orientation or gender identity. 

The Supreme Court ruled in Bostock v. Clayton County that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act which says that employers can’t discriminate based on race, sex, religion, or place of birth also includes protection for employees based on their gender, orientation, and identity. You are protected from workplace discrimination and your employer can face big penalties if they discriminate against you.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is the government agency that investigates workplace discrimination. The EEOC has offices in all 50 states and in 44 states that have an agreement to share information with the state labor authorities. If you file a complaint against an employer in one of those 44 states the EEOC will send copies of your complaint and supporting documents to the state so that the state can also investigate that employer. 

Examples Of Workplace Discrimination

Some examples of what discrimination against LGBTQ+ people looks like are:

Not Getting Raises or Promotions

Cost of living raises and other increases in pay are usually built into an employee’s benefits package. If you have not received any scheduled raises or if you have not been given the chance to promote but other people who have fewer qualifications have been able to promote that may be discrimination. 

Targeted Bullying or Harassment

There is no situation in which it’s legal for your employer or coworkers to harass or bully you. That means “jokes” about LGBTQ+ people or you, in particular, are against the law. Bullying, harassment, invasive questions, promoting stereotypes, and all other types of bullying and harassment are illegal. 

Scheduling Issues

If you’re an hourly worker and you have had your hours cut or you are not being given the shifts you were promised when you were hired that could be discrimination. 

Using Your Dead Name

If you’re transgender and you have changed your name your boss and coworkers must use your chosen name and not your dead name. If they refuse that’s discrimination.  

Filing A Workplace Discrimination Claim

Whenever you experience an incident of discrimination or what you think could be discrimination you should document it. Write down the day and time, who was involved, and a quick paragraph describing what happened. If you can get photos, screenshots, or other evidence of what happened you should do that. Collect all of your evidence and your list of incidents and go to your boss or to the Human Resources representative. Let them know you’re being discriminated against and it has to stop. If they dismiss your fears or say that you’re overreacting or in any way refuse to help you then just go online to the EEOC’s website and you can file a complaint in minutes. 

You can also file a discrimination complaint with your state administrative agency. When you file a discrimination complaint on the state level, it will be dual filed with the EEOC, that way you don’t have to file two complaints.

Remedies For Harassment and Discrimination

If you are found to be the victim of discrimination by an employer, you could be entitled to damaged for pain and suffering or for mental distress if you were bullied or harassed. You also could receive lump sums of money for lost wages or get a promotion that you are owed. 


More You might like

REPORT: Preempting LGBTQ+ Rights: How States Undermine Local Leadership and Innovation on LGBTQ+ Equality

In a new paper from A Better Balance, Local Solutions Support Center, and Equality Federation, we trace the local roots of LGBTQ+ equality in the United States and highlight the different types of abusive preemption that target local authority to protect LGBTQ+ individuals.

April 23, 2023
Our Growing Team

We are no longer the scrappy organization we once were. I am proud to say that Equality Federation is now an organization of 17, with the plan to have a staff of 20 by the end of the year.

April 23, 2023
State and National Equality Groups Condemn Selection of Extremist Rep. Mike Johnson as Speaker of the House

This week, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to make Representative Mike Johnson of Louisiana the new Speaker of the House. Equality Federation, Forum for Equality, and Louisiana Trans Advocates — national and state organizations advocating for LGBTQ+ equality — join advocates across the country in condemning this selection, pointing out Johnson’s vehement anti-LGBTQ+ history as a lawmaker.

April 23, 2023
A young man looking up, smilingA young man smiling straight at the camera
Confident young woman standing with crossed arms.

Want To Make A Difference? Support Our Work

With your support, we'll be able to continue our work to build the leaders of today and tomorrow, strengthen state-based LGBTQ+ organizations, and make critical progress on the issues that matter most—like protecting transgender people, ending HIV criminalization and ensuring access to care, and banning conversion therapy across the country.