Unlike race, religion, sex, and national origin, sexual orientation is not a protected class under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. Technically, this means that it is not illegal for employers in the United States to discriminate against job applicants and employees based on their sexual orientations. However, one case involving a sky diving instructor in New York, who was terminated after he informed a student of his sexual orientation, has prompted individuals and their lawyers to argue that discrimination based on sexual orientation is sex discrimination. In many situations involving alleged sexual orientation discrimination, the discrimination would not have occurred if the plaintiff was the opposite sex. Opponents do not see it this way; if an individual’s statements, actions, or sexual activity outside of the workplace would result in termination, regardless of their sex, they argue that termination is not sex discrimination.
In certain states, sexual orientation and gender identity are protected classes at the state level. Among these states, some protect only sexual orientation while others protect one or both classes in government employment. One of the lawyers involved in the case discussed above, argued that sex discrimination encompasses all forms of discrimination based on sex or gender, including the assumption that individuals of one sex are always sexually attracted to individuals of the opposite sex. An opposing lawyer argued that sexual orientation is not the same as race and gender in this regard, stating that an individual opposed to same-sex marriages would not be defined as a sexist.
Defining Sex-based Discrimination
Although it can be difficult to determine whether an instance of sexual orientation discrimination can be considered an act of sex discrimination, other cases are less muddled. Sex discrimination is any act of discrimination in the workplace based on an employee’s sex or gender. An easy way to identify an act of sex discrimination is to determine whether it would have happened if the victim was of the opposite sex. Examples of sex discrimination include:
- Terminating an employee because of their pregnancy
- Asking an interviewee about their family life and plans for children in the future
- Refusing to promote individuals of a specific sex beyond a certain level in the organization
- Expecting employees of the opposite sex to complete different tasks despite holding the same position
- Compensating employees of different sexes unequally for the same work performed
- Barring employees of a specific sex from professional development opportunities
- Disciplining employees of different sexes unequally for the same misbehavior
South Jersey Sexual Discrimination Lawyers at Sidney L. Gold & Associates, P.C. Represent Victims of All Types of Workplace Discrimination
If you have been the victim of sexual orientation discrimination, or any other form of workplace discrimination, contact a South Jersey sexual discrimination lawyer today. Fill out our online form or call us at 866-569-8744 to schedule your initial consultation with Sidney L. Gold & Associates, P.C. We serve clients throughout the state of New Jersey.