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How Does Sexual Orientation Discrimination in the Workplace Occur?
If your sexual orientation motivates your employer or a prospective employer to take any of the following actions against you, you might be the victim of illegal discrimination:
- Refusing to hire you,
- Firing you,
- Harassing or enabling harassment against you,
- Advertising a job listing or recruiting in a way that discourages people of your sexual orientation from applying,
- Denying you work benefits,
- Refusing to promote you,
- Excluding you from work opportunities,
- Reducing your pay,
- Disciplining you without a valid reason,
- Enforcing rules against you more harshly or frequently than against other employees in the same situation,
- Treating you differently from other employees, or
- Subjecting you to unwanted transfers or assignments.
Sexual orientation discrimination is illegal, regardless of whether you identify as homosexual, heterosexual, bisexual, pansexual, omnisexual, or asexual. And sexual orientation discrimination is unlawful regardless of whether you and your employer have different sexual orientations.
However you identify, and whatever your sexual preferences, many laws can safeguard your right to make a living in a respectful environment.
Sexual Orientation Discrimination Case Examples
How Can I Initiate a Sexual Orientation Discrimination Case?
As we stated above, the federal government has taken a clear stance against sexual orientation discrimination in employment situations. If you have endured sexual orientation discrimination and your employer has 15 employees or more, you can file a discrimination charge with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
Federal employees have 45 days to initiate this process, and state and private employees have 180 days to submit a charge.
Your ability to maintain a sexual orientation discrimination case at a more local level will likely depend on where you live in Florida. The language of Florida’s statewide anti-discrimination laws does not explicitly identify sexual orientation as a protected characteristic, but many city and county laws do.
The multitude of Florida cities and counties that have implemented sexual orientation discrimination laws or policies include the following:
The list above is a fraction of the local governments that protect their residents and workers from sexual orientation discrimination. You should check with a knowledgeable sexual orientation discrimination attorney about whether you have local rights where you work.
You might also have the right to file a civil lawsuit against a discriminatory employer. And if you choose to file your suit at the federal level, you must first submit an EEOC charge and receive a Notice of Right to Sue from the federal agency.
Once the EEOC confirms that you have a right to sue, you have 90 days to start your lawsuit.
What Can I Recover in a Sexual Orientation Discrimination Claim?
The remedies available in a sexual orientation discrimination case are many. If a court or government agency concludes that your employer is liable for sexual orientation discrimination, you might receive the following:
- Economic damages to cover your wage and benefit losses, out-of-pocket expenses, and related healthcare expenses;
- Non-economic damages to compensate you for the emotional harm the discrimination caused;
- Punitive damages to punish your employer when its behavior is egregious;
- Attorney fees; and
- Injunctive relief, such as job reinstatement and policy changes at work.
Depending on how significantly your employer’s unlawfully biased behavior affects your well-being and your ability to earn money, your employer might owe you a significant amount in damages.
Caps on Compensation
While you might deserve a large payout for enduring discrimination, remember that federal law caps your damages based on how large your employer’s workforce is.
Federal law limits damages for employment discrimination in the following ways:
- Employers with 15 to 100 employees cannot be liable for more than $50,000 in compensatory and punitive damages,
- Employers with 101 to 200 employees cannot be liable for more than $100,000 in compensatory and punitive damages,
- Employers with 201 to 500 employees cannot be liable for more than $200,000 in compensatory and punitive damages, and
- Employers with more than 500 employees cannot be liable for more than $300,000 in compensatory and punitive damages.
There can be many ways to calculate the size of an employer’s workforce, so speak to an attorney about what you can recover.
Contact a Florida Sexual Orientation Discrimination Lawyer
The workplace should be a respectful place. And if your employer has disrespected your rights because of your sexual orientation, a respected and skilled lawyer at Brenton Legal, PA, can shield you from financial, professional, and personal ruin while holding your employer accountable. We are passionate about protecting employees throughout the State of Florida, and we are ready to take your case to court if necessary.
Our experienced legal team also wants to make sure that we do not waste your time or money. If we do not believe that you have a good chance of winning your legal claim, we let you know right away. And we do not charge our clients unless and until we win. In other words, we don’t get paid unless and until you get paid.
If you have questions about if you have a sexual orientation discrimination case and whether it is time to take legal action against your boss, a no-obligation consultation with us can be the best way to get those questions answered. Please call us at 954-639-4644, or reach out to us on our website to schedule a free case review.
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