It is an unfortunate reality that members of the LGBT community often face harassment and discrimination in the workplace. Thankfully, the law is on your side. The Fair Employment and Housing Act protects workers from mistreatment based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
Even though the fact that this law exists may be comforting, it can still be confusing and stressful to face these issues at work. Learn more about what the law says and how to fight for your rights by reading below.
Definition of harassment
The legal definition of harassment of LGBT workers in California includes behavior that meets the following three criteria:
- Related to sexual orientation or gender identity
- Pervasive or severe enough to create an uncomfortable work environment
It can be confusing to determine when harassment is either severe or pervasive. Essentially, pervasive means it happens multiple times while severe means it is seriously humiliating or physically threatening. This definition exists to prevent employees from taking legal action because of one isolated or minor incident.
How your employer can help
Even though this law exists, it is up to each employer to enforce and implement it. Sadly, many employers are not well-informed or compliant regarding harassment of LGBT employees. There are some simple things your employer should do to make you feel safe, comfortable and welcome at your job, including the following:
- Develop a policy against harassment
- Communicate the policy to every employee, either through an employee handbook or training
- Display the California law regarding LGBT harassment in a noticeable place
If you have concerns about your work environment, you may want to talk to your employer about creating and implementing a strict policy.
The workplace should not be scary or uncomfortable. You deserve to be free of harassment–the law guarantees it. If your employer fails to protect you, you may be able to pursue legal action.