Until June 15, there was no federal law governing employment discrimination based on sexual orientation. This changed with the U.S. Supreme Court interpretation of the scope of the protections of Title VII, which prohibits discrimination in the workplace based on certain protected categories like race or gender. Though there is still no federal legislation prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation in the workplace, this case law will likely have an impact at the state level. On top of this, New Jersey has its own law prohibiting sexual orientation discrimination at work.
The federal decision regarding sexual orientation discrimination will afford individuals legal support should they choose to file a federal administrative complaint with the EEOC. This decision also impacts the rights of the transgender community since the Court found that gender identity discrimination was also prohibited by Title VII. New Jersey residents can also bring a civil claim in state court for sexual orientation or gender identity discrimination.
The New Jersey Law Against Discrimination prohibits discrimination not just against those who identify as LGBT but those who are perceived to be LGBT. The prohibition applies to both existing employees and prospective employees, meaning that an employer cannot refuse to hire someone based on real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. Similarly, employers are prohibited form retaliating against employees for reporting acts of harassment or discrimination in the workplace.
New Jersey residents who feel that they have been treated unfairly on the basis of their gender identity or sexual orientation may want to consult with a plaintiff-side employment attorney about a possible workplace discrimination claim. An attorney may discuss how to document acts of alleged harassment or discrimination if it is ongoing and what steps to take next. An attorney may also help determine if a person has sufficient evidence to file a lawsuit against a current or former employer.