Los Angeles Sexual Orientation Discrimination Lawyer
In 1964, America came together as a nation and decided that discrimination in the workplace was wrong. We said that those who suffered discrimination on the basis of immutable characteristics were entitled to the protection of the law. We said that when employers did choose to discriminate against employees on the basis of certain characteristics, that employee had the right to recover damages from his or her employer.
Today, most Americans enjoy a workplace in which they are not denied promotion, employment, or otherwise made to suffer in a hostile work environment. Nonetheless, sexual orientation is not established as a protected characteristic under federal law. California law, however, does protect its LGBT citizens from discrimination in the workplace and housing.
If you’ve been discriminated against in California on the basis of your sexual orientation, you do have cause to sue your employer and recover damages. The Dolan Law Firm can help. We have helped a number of LGBT citizens recover damages under California state law. Give us a call or contact us online for a free consultation and we can begin discussing your options today.
Types of Discrimination in the Workplace
There are generally three different ways that discrimination perpetuates itself in American workplaces. Those are cultural, structural, or simply overt kinds of discrimination. It must be understood, however, that businesses with fewer than five employees are exempted from anti-discrimination laws in California.
Overt kinds of discrimination include:
- Discrimination in hiring, firing, and promotion. Under California state law, it is unlawful to deny a prospective employee a position on the basis of their sexual orientation. In addition, it is unlawful to fire someone on the basis of their sexual orientation or offer a promotion to an under-qualified candidate in lieu of a more qualified LGBT employee. In any of these instances, the Dolan Law Firm can help you sue your employer and recover damages.
- Denial of benefits. An employer cannot deny an employee health benefits on the basis of their sexual orientation. For instance, an employee who fails to extend health insurance coverage to gay employees is in violation of California’s civil rights laws.
Cultural forms of discrimination include:
- Workplace harassment and hostile work environment. It’s not at all uncommon for LGBT employees to be targeted for crude jokes, abuse, and harassment in the workplace. While one offhand comment does not rise to the standard of a hostile work environment, a persistent pattern of abuse from employees and managers does. If you report such abuse to managers or HR departments and they do nothing about it, you are entitled to sue your employer for damages. The Dolan Law Firm can help here.
All employees are entitled to be judged on their merits, skills, and hard work—not on those aspects of themselves over which they have no power. In addition, employees are entitled to a workplace free of harassment. They do not have to endure repeated unwelcome mockery or other forms of hostility. When they report these to their employer, they are entitled to an investigation. The unwanted behavior must stop one way or another. The employer may not retaliate against the employee who brings these issues to their attention. They may not fire that employee, demote that employee, or allow the harassment to continue.
When these behaviors are allowed to fester, they impact the overall culture of the workplace which is either passively or actively condoning such behavior. In California, this is a violation of your civil rights. You are entitled to sue the employer who discriminates against you or allows workplace abuse to continue.
Employer Liability in Hostile Work Environment Scenarios
Generally speaking, even if there is only one individual who is doing the harassing, it is the company that is liable for the harassment. Why?
The company is expected to regulate their workplace in accord with California law. This means ensuring that each of their employees has a safe and stress-free workplace to earn their living. That, in turn, means correcting behaviors that create hostile work environments. Ultimately, the responsibility is the company’s to manage their culture. Failure to do so leaves them liable for civil damages under California law.
Calculating Damages in Employment Discrimination Lawsuits
Under California law, an employee may recover damages for:
- Past and future lost wages,
- Other job-related benefits (including health insurance),
- General damages including emotional distress, stress, and pain and suffering,
- Punitive damages which are designed to punish the employer for their misdeeds,
- And finally, attorney and court fees related to the process of litigation.
If an employee wins a lawsuit against their employer for discrimination or harassment, they must make some attempt to mitigate damages to their employer. This means finding another job in a reasonable amount of time. In other words, you can’t simply live off the lawsuit for the rest of your days on the premise that you lost future wages.
Will the EEOC Take My Case?
The EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) interprets federal statutes prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sex or gender to extend to LGBT rights in the workplace. Nonetheless, the federal government has not necessarily ruled in favor of the EEOC when they bring cases against employers. The EEOC, for its part, takes cases that are often losers for the purpose of pressing serious issues in the courts, forcing issues into the Supreme Court, and otherwise changing the system by taking on issues.
In addition to this, the EEOC takes very few cases that cross its desk in the myriad of complaints that are filed with it each year. While the EEOC has its place in terms of championing civil rights, it is not necessarily in your best interests to have the EEOC take your case.
Private law firms like the Dolan Law Firm fight for your rights, not for everybody’s rights. We get results more quickly and we take cases on their merits, not on the basis of what kind of civil change will result from them.
It’s important to recognize the value of what the EEOC does, but do not confuse that importance with success in terms of litigation.
Contact a Sexual Orientation Discrimination Lawyer in Los Angeles Today
If you’ve been discriminated against in the workplace on the basis of your sexual orientation, you can recover damages. Give us a call or contact us online and we will discuss your options with you.