Evolving Workplace Rights in the LGBT Community

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Workplace rights in the LGBT communityFor years, sexual harassment has traditionally been associated with unwelcome conduct by a male towards a female in the workplace. While this is still common, there are many combinations of workplace sexual harassment and gender discrimination occurring, especially as the Lesbian / Gay / Bisexual / Transgender community and Equal Rights evolves.

Recently, the media has focused on Caitlyn Jenner, who has lived in the spotlight for years and who has recently garnered much attention for publicly identifying as a transgender woman. Ms. Jenner’s courageous decision to publicize her journey has sparked much attention across America. What many Americans may not understand, however, is that three out of every five citizens still live in a jurisdiction that do not have laws that prohibit employment discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation.[1] Therefore, while we celebrate the advancement of new rights being afforded to the LGBT community, in many cases there are still not adequate workplace protections in place.

Fortunately, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) handed down a historic ruling on employment discrimination on July 16, 2015. The ruling affirmed that under the provisions of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, employment discrimination based on sexual orientation is prohibited. [2] While the EEOC rulings are not binding on federal courts, they are still persuasive and important.

Furthermore, Massachusetts also recognizes workplace protections for transgender individuals. Massachusetts makes no distinction between straight or LGBT individuals. Pursuant to MGL c 151B, every individual is afforded those same workplace rights prohibiting sexual harassment or gender / sexual orientation discrimination.

If you believe you have experienced workplace discrimination in Boston, please contact Attorney John Davis at (978) 228-2262.

[1] http://www.hrc.org/resources/entry/Workplace-Discrimination-Policies-Laws-and-Legislation

[2] http://www.hrc.org/blog/entry/hrc-hails-historic-equal-employment-opportunity-commission-ruling-on-employ

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