How to handle LGBTQ+ discrimination at work was originally published on College Recruiter.
Being discriminated against at work for any reason is wrong, but especially when it’s due to your sexual orientation, gender identity, or race. Those reasons are particularly egregious. What can be done in such a situation? Know this: you have rights, and there are steps that you can take to ensure that you’re not only treated fairly but also that people are held accountable for their actions.
Discrimination is not always an easy thing to handle for an employee, as fears about losing employment or causing problems often prevent them from pursuing a solution to the problem. And while diversity has become more of a priority for employers in recent years, that doesn’t mean that discrimination doesn’t still exist.
In fact, recent statistics show that these issues are still extremely prevalent in the workplace despite progress overall in regard to LGBTQ+ equality. An organization called Pride At Work reported a few years ago that 16 percent of LGBTQ+ individuals have reported losing a job due to their sexuality or gender identity. The same report noted that, at the time of publishing, 58 percent of people heard derogatory comments about their sexual orientation or gender identity in the workplace.
If you believe you’ve been treated unequally, unfairly, or have been fired due to being a member of the LGBTQ+ community, taking the right steps goes a long way in righting this wrong. The first thing you can do if you’ve been mistreated as an employee is report the situation to your company’s Human Resources department, if you feel comfortable doing so. However, given how some companies tend to handle in-house complaints, this might not alway yield the best results. You should report to HR only if you feel that doing so will be productive.
Outside of reporting the situation within the company, you can take significant action through the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which recognizes LGBTQ+ discrimination under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Familiarize yourself with the Civil Rights Act, as well as other state and federal discrimination laws, so that you can arm yourself with the knowledge you need to take the right action against your employer.
Filing with the EEOC is especially crucial if you’ve been fired because of your sexual orientation or gender identity. Know your rights, and in some cases contact a lawyer to help you navigate the process effectively. Larger companies are often represented by high-powered lawyers, and it can be a stressful challenge to take them on without representation yourself.
The workplace can present many issues, big and small, despite sometimes being a healthy environment for friendships and relationships. When it comes to discrimination, however, we have a long way to go towards full acceptance and diversity. That doesn’t mean you have to tolerate mistreatment, though. You have rights, and knowing those rights is absolutely essential. If you feel you’ve been unfairly treated or fired because of your sexual orientation or gender identity, take the necessary steps towards rectifying the situation. Not only will you be helping yourself and protecting your rights, you’ll be doing your part in moving the needle and creating a more equitable workplace.
— Article by Sean Kelly, an analyst researching the latest industry trends for College Recruiter