In general, it can be challenging to prove or to be certain that what you’re experiencing is specifically due to your sexual orientation. This is because it’s very easy for an employer or colleague to lie about their true intentions. However, there are some things you should look for– some more obvious than others. To help, this article will review the signs of sexual orientation discrimination in the workplace.
It is only legal for an employer to inquire about your sexual orientation if it is a bona fide occupation qualification (BFOQ). In extremely rare cases, your sexual orientation may prevent you from doing a specific job function, which is what the BFOQ attempts to recognize. And in these rare cases, the argument usually occurs when members of the LGBTQ community apply for religious positions. Despite the BFOQ exemption, it is extremely rare for an employer to win this argument.
Other than that, there is no reason your employer should inquire about your sexuality; they have no legal right to. If an employer asks about your sexual orientation, this is almost 100 percent of the time sexual orientation discrimination.
Many members of the LGBTQ community have experienced bullying, inappropriate comments, and cruel jokes throughout their lives. So much so that when someone makes a “joke,” they can easily ignore it. Not only should this never happen to anyone, but it also certainly shouldn’t happen at your job, where people should be professional and respectful.
It’s also important to note that it doesn’t matter if the comment was a joke or a comment made in ignorance; if it made you uncomfortable, it should not go unaddressed. While you can personally and privately tell the person what they said made you uncomfortable, that may not be enough to stop them, and you should report it to HR. If HR doesn’t act, and you notice that other coworkers are getting away with similar things, this is likely a systemic problem in the company that you need to distance yourself from.
Overt harassment can take many forms, often appearing as physical, verbal, or sexual harassment; you’ll likely know it when you see or experience it. Other forms of over harassment can include not being able to keep a picture of your partner on your desk while others can, or even being unable to wear specific colors and have pride flags on your desk.
Knowing the signs of sexual orientation discrimination in the workplace can arm you and others with the knowledge to protect LGBTQ members from harassment. If you feel you’ve been a victim of sexual orientation discrimination in the workplace, contact an LGBTQ discrimination lawyer and get the representation you deserve today.