Lesbian, Gay, and Bi-sexual Discrimination

Is discrimination against Lesbian, Gay or Bisexual employees unlawful?

Discrimination against Lesbian, gay, and bisexual employees because they are Lesbian, gay, or bisexual, is still not prohibited by federal and state law. This is because sexual orientation is not protected under these laws. Triquetra Law supports legal reform to add sexual orientation and gender identity or expression explicitly to both Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act (the main federal anti-discrimination law) and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act (Pennsylvania state law). With continued legal and non-violent advocacy, such laws will eventually pass and we will be glad to update this page proclaiming another large step towards equality for all.

Meanwhile, gay, lesbian and bisexual individuals can have protection against employment discrimination when the employer uses or condones “sexual stereotyping.” An example is where an employer does not promote a male employee because he acts too effeminate or where a woman does not get tenure because she failed to act like a stereotypical woman. This type of discrimination is brought under “sex discrimination” and is prohibited.

There are also a growing number of local anti-discrimination ordinances that prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation & Gender identity. According to a list compiled by the Mazzoni Center, these municipalities include: Allegheny County, Allentown, Bethlehem, Cheltenham Township, Conshohoken, Doylestown, Easton, Erie County, Harrisburg, Hatboro, Haverford, Jenkintown, Lancaster, Lansdowne, Lower Merion, New Hope, Newtown, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Reading, Scranton, Susquehanna Township, Swarthmore, West Chester, Whitemarsh Township, and York. See: http://mazzonicenter.org/resources/list-pennsylvania-ordinances-prohibiting-discrimination-based-sexual-orientation-gender-id.

What is the consequence?

Where an employee can prove their employer or potential employer engaged in unlawful sex stereotyping, the employee can seek:

  • A court order to stop the employer’s harmful behavior and to reinstate the employee to his/her former position.
  • Back pay if the employee was wrongfully terminated or lost a job opportunity as a result of the discrimination – This may include pay and benefits the employee would have received had the discrimination not occurred.
  • Front pay, or pay the employee would have received in the future if the discrimination had not prevented the employee’s return to the workplace.
  • Compensatory damages such as pain and suffering
  • Punitive damages, unless the employer is a public employer
  • Attorney fees for the costs of securing an attorney to fight the case and win.

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, or Transgender Employees who work for Pennsylvania state agencies.

State agency employees have protection against employment discrimination based on sexual orientation, and gender identity or expression under Executive Order 2003-10. This is an internal complaint process, meaning that if you bring an EEOC or PHRC complaint as well, the internal procedure changes. Complaints must be brought within 90 calendar days to the Equal Opportunity Officer of the particular agency. No specific remedies are provided for in this process. If you are not satisfied with the initial results, you can appeal to your agency head. The agency head, though has sole discretion to decide what to do.

State agency employees should keep in mind:

  • Other employment deadlines continue to run while an internal complaint is pending
  • Your collective bargaining agreement may provide additional rights and deadlines
  • Triquetra Law encourages you to seek attorney advice sooner, rather than later, i.e. before you file these types of complaints

For more information and help with transgender discrimination, contact Triquetra Law at: 717-299-6300.