San Bernardino Sexual Orientation Discrimination and Harassment Lawyers
Under California law, it is illegal for employers to discriminate against or harass employees because of their actual or perceived sexual orientation. While discrimination based on sexual orientation is still not universally prohibited nationwide, California is, fortunately, one of the states that have unconditionally forbidden this discriminatory practice.
At Broslavsky & Weinman, LLP, our LGBTQ discrimination attorneys stand up for the rights of employees to be free of discrimination and harassment in the workplace based on their actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. In each and every case we take on, our attorneys are dedicated to providing strong effective advocacy and diligently work to maximize the value of our clients’ claims.
California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) expressly makes it unlawful for an employer to terminate or otherwise discriminate against any employee in compensation or other terms of employment based on his or her sexual orientation. The statute defines sexual orientation as heterosexuality, homosexuality, and bisexuality. Another part of FEHA similarly prohibits discrimination because of gender identity and gender expression.
Claims for discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity are governed by the same principles and have the same potential for recovery as other types of discrimination cases.
Just like victims of other types of discrimination, successful claimants of discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity can recover the following compensation:
- Economic damages such as lost wages and benefits
- Damages for emotional distress that resulted from being discriminated against
- Exemplary damages to punish the employer in egregious cases
Harassment is a form of discrimination, and harassment at work based on sexual orientation or gender identity is also expressly forbidden under California law. Actionable harassment can include slurs, homophobic or anti-LGBTQ comments, or physical abuse that results in a hostile work environment. While the harassers are often straight and prejudiced against the LGBTQ community, unlawful harassment can also occur where the harasser is himself/herself a member of the community and may be interested in his/her target.
Similarly, while harassment based on sexual orientation often overlaps with other forms of discrimination, it is also not always the case and claims for harassment can be successfully brought where there is no termination or even tangible loss of income or benefits. If the company is notified of the harassment but does not take effective corrective action, this makes it more likely that the employer will be found responsible and liable for the harassment by the individuals in question.
Starting in 2019, an employer may be liable for the harassing conduct not just by the company’s employees but also by third parties (such as contractors, customers, or vendors), provided that the employer knew or should have known of the harassment and failed to take appropriate steps to prevent it from continuing.
Some employees may understandably feel uncomfortable reporting harassment or other discriminatory actions to their employer out of fear of retaliation. However, on top of prohibiting discrimination and harassment, the Fair Employment and Housing Act also specifically prohibits retaliation for complaining about discrimination and harassment. Employees who are retaliated against for exercising their rights thus have additional claims and can potentially recover additional compensation against their employers.
Before reporting harassment or other forms of discrimination, it is generally advisable to speak to an attorney to get advice on how to proceed and to ensure that one’s rights and potential claims are preserved.
If you have experienced discrimination or harassment at work because of your actual or perceived LGBTQ status, our San Bernardino sexual orientation discrimination lawyers can assist you. Call us at (909) 551-4455 or fill out the contact form on this page for a free consultation.
With offices in San Bernardino and Los Angeles, we provide representation to employees throughout all of San Bernardino County, including, but not limited to Ontario, Upland, Fontana, Redlands, and Rancho Cucamonga.