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Are You Protected Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination?

The United States has a long history of affording protections to groups commonly targeted with harassment and discrimination. Today, state and federal officials are turning their attention to the treatment of people based on their sexual orientation. However, people are still openly discriminated against for being gay, lesbian, bisexual or transsexual ‘ especially in the workplace.

Although federal law offers protections against discrimination to people based on a variety of factors, including race, national origin, religion, sex, age and disability, it does not extend those protections to people based on their sexual orientation in the private sector. Attempts to pass federal legislation to outlaw such discrimination have failed over the past several years.

However, despite this lack of federal support, several states have enacted their own laws to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation. About half of the states in the nation have such laws, including Washington, D.C. If someone is discriminated against (including fired, demoted or passed on for a promotion) based on sexual orientation in these states, the employers may face substantial penalties. ??

In addition to state laws, many employers have internal rules barring any type of discrimination from both management and coworkers. These policies often prohibit discriminating conduct regardless of sexual orientation and exist as an option for anyone who is harassed or discriminated against at work.

If you believe you have been the target of discrimination in the workplace based on your sexual orientation, you have legal options. Whether this discrimination stemmed from your employer or a coworker, meet with an experienced labor law attorney at Tobin, O’Connor & Ewing in Washington, D.C.

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