Sexual Orientation Discrimination

El Segundo Lawyer Helping Workers

Workplace sexual orientation discrimination is prohibited under California and federal laws. Sexual orientation is a term that refers to the genders to whom you’re sexually and romantically attracted; you may be lesbian, gay, bisexual, heterosexual or asexual. You may be wondering what your rights are if your employer treats you differently than your fellow workers due to your sexual orientation. It can be harmful, both emotionally and financially, to be evaluated on this basis. If you believe you’ve been the victim of sexual orientation discrimination, you should consult an El Segundo sexual orientation discrimination lawyer at the Calderone Law Firm.

Sexual Orientation Discrimination

The California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) expressly prohibits employers from discriminating against employees due to their sexual orientation. Discrimination occurs when an employer takes an adverse employment action against an employee based on a protected characteristic such as sexual orientation. Adverse employment actions include failure to hire, failure to promote, failure to provide training, layoffs, and terminations. For example, if you were terminated because you came out as lesbian and attended an office party with your wife, you would have a claim for sexual orientation discrimination. Similarly, if you were not promoted to a client-facing role because your employer believes that your bisexuality doesn’t promote a wholesome image for the company, you may have a claim of sexual orientation discrimination.

The Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) is the state agency that administers and enforces FEHA. Before bringing a lawsuit, you’ll need to exhaust your administrative claims by filing a complaint with DFEH. If DFEH investigates but decides not to pursue your claim, you’ll be given a right-to-sue letter. If you decide to file a lawsuit in court, you should retain a sexual orientation discrimination lawyer in El Segundo.

Proving Sexual Orientation Discrimination

Many California employers are aware that sexual orientation discrimination is illegal. Accordingly, they may not explicitly cite your sexual orientation as the reason for their employment decisions. Sometimes, the circumstances of your employer’s decision may include facts that support a discrimination claim. These could include an employer’s jokes about your sexual orientation, accusations that you are LGBTQ because you refuse sexual advances in the workplace, sharing homophobic memes, requiring heterosexual and gay or lesbian workers to take on different tasks, or reacting poorly to you coming out as homosexual or bisexual.


One form of employment discrimination is harassment. You may have a sexual orientation discrimination claim if a supervisor, manager, or coworker subjects you to offensive, hostile or intimidating behavior due to your sexual orientation. In order to be actionable, behavior needs to be so severe or pervasive it interferes with your capacity to perform your job. For example, a homophobic remark may be unfair and awful, but depending on the content of the remark, it might not rise to the level of “severe.” An El Segundo sexual orientation discrimination attorney can review your complaint and determine if wrongful discrimination occurred. If your coworker assaults you because you come out as gay at work, this would be harassment even if it was a one-time incident. And if you face homophobic remarks from your supervisor and coworkers every day, you may be able to bring a harassment lawsuit because the conduct is pervasive.

Federal Law

Federal law also prohibits sexual orientation discrimination in the workplace, though not expressly. Title VII of the Civil Rights prohibits sex discrimination, and the Supreme Court has ruled that sexual orientation discrimination is a form of sex discrimination that violates the prohibition on discrimination based on sex. Title VII applies only to employers with at least 15 employees. In most cases, employees have greater protection under FEHA.

Consult a Seasoned El Segundo Attorney

You may be able to bring a lawsuit under FEHA or Title VII if your employer took an adverse action against you based on your sexual orientation. For a case evaluation, call Calderone Law Firm to speak with a sexual orientation discrimination attorney in El Segundo. We may be able to help you. Please complete our online form or call us at (424) 348-8290.