No one should be scared to go to work because they are worried about what harassment or discrimination will happen to them. But for thousands of LGBTQ+ people that fear is something they have every day. You don’t have to be afraid to go to work. You have a legal right to work in a place where you are respected and treated fairly. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act says that employers can’t discriminate against employees because of their race, sex, religion, or place of birth. However, over the years the Supreme Court has expanded the protections of Title VII to include other high-risk groups including LGBTQ+ people. You are protected by the Federal Civil Rights Act and you can file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission if your employer is discriminating against you.
State laws are different than Federal ones. In 44 states there is an agreement to work with the EEOC so the EEOC sends copies of all complaints against employers in that state to the state labor authorities. If you work in one of those 44 states the state will get your complaint information from the EEOC and use that to investigate whether or not your employer is breaking state employment law.
A few of most common types of workplace discrimination faced by LGBTQ+ people are:
Not Getting Raises Or Promotions
Not being given the chance to advance or not being given raises, especially regularly schedules raises that everyone gets like cost of living raises each year are discrimination.
Targeted Bullying or Harassment
If your coworkers or bosses regularly use slurs or offensive language, promote offensive stereotypes, make fun of you or your partner, or target you for bullying because of your identity that’s always discrimination. Even if they say that they are “joking” it’s still discrimination and still illegal.
Scheduling Preference For Other Workers
If you were promised a certain number of hours when you started working there but your hours keep getting cut and given to straight coworkers or if you are routinely scheduled for shifts when you have said that you aren’t available that’s discrimination.
Using Your Dead Name
When a transgender person chooses their own name coworkers and bosses are not allowed to keep using that person’s dead name. They must also use that person’s preferred pronouns.
You should always get documentation of what is happening to you. The more documentation you have the stronger your case will be. That means you should print out copies of emails, chat logs, or instant messages that contain bullying or harassment. Get photos and videos of the incidents that are happening to you. And keep a log of all incidents that has the date and time of each incident, a summary of what happened, and a list of the people involved. Take all of that evidence to your HR office or your boss and demand that they stop the discrimination. If they tell you that you’re overreacting or misinterpreting what is going on then go immediately to the EEOC’s website and file a complaint.
In Texas, you can file a discrimination complaint with the Texas Workforce Commission — Civil Rights Division. When you file a discrimination complaint on the state level in Tennessee, It will be dual filed with the EEOC, that way you don’t have to file two complaints.
If you have been discriminated against at work because you are part of the LGBTQ+ community you could receive money for lost wages, a promotion, or money for pain and suffering for the bullying you experienced.