Although Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 does not explicitly prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, recent court decisions and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) policy have established protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) employees. Discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is considered a form of sex discrimination, and LGBT federal employees who experience harassment or adverse employment action based upon their sexual orientation are entitled to all of the benefits available to other employees who have been discriminated against in violation of Title VII.
Our attorneys are committed to helping LGBT federal employees protect their legal rights. Focusing exclusively on the representation of federal employees in employment-related matters, our attorneys bring more than 30 years’ combined experience to fighting for victims of unlawful discrimination. Our legal team is led by firm founder George Melville Johnson, a federal employment lawyer who has litigated thousands of cases before the EEOC and other federal agencies.
Pursuing any type of discrimination claim against the federal government can be challenging. There are strict timelines and procedural requirements, and you need evidence to support your allegations. At Melville Johnson, P.C., we know what it takes to win discrimination cases against the government. Whether protecting your rights involves negotiating a settlement through the EEOC’s administrative procedures or prosecuting a successful appeal in federal court, we will aggressively pursue a personalized case strategy, and we will make sure you feel informed and confident every step of the way.
“Thank You!! I have to admit I was afraid to spend the money up front, but now that I have my back pay and I’m working again, I can see that it was all worth it. My attorney was great, kept me informed, and really listened to me. This was the best decision I’ve made in a long[,] long time. Thanks again.” – Verified Review by a Federal Employee
Title VII and Sexual Orientation Discrimination: Answers to FAQs
Q: What are some examples of unlawful discrimination based on sexual orientation?
Since sexual orientation discrimination is considered a form of sex discrimination, Title VII protects LGBT workers against all forms of improperly-motivated employment practices. Some examples of unlawful discriminatory employment practices recognized by the EEOC include:
- Denying an employee a promotion based upon his or her sexual orientation
- Paying a lower salary, denying spousal health insurance benefits, and otherwise providing disparate compensation and benefits to gay and straight employees
- Using derogatory terms, making disparaging remarks, or otherwise harassing a federal employee based on his or her sexual orientation
Q: Are LGBT workers filing claims for sexual orientation discrimination?
Yes. According to the EEOC’s 2015 data, more than 1,100 employees across the public and private sectors filed sexual orientation claims during the year. This represented a nearly 30 percent increase from 2014.
Q: If I file a complaint about sexual orientation discrimination, does that mean that I will need to go to court?
No, not necessarily. In fact, most discrimination cases are resolved at the agency level without going to court. For federal employees, the process of filing a discrimination claim starts with contacting your agency’s equal employment opportunity counselor. From there, you will participate in either counseling or alternative dispute resolution procedures (i.e. mediation). If this stage does not result in a favorable outcome, your case will then go before an EEOC administrative judge or panel. If you are unsatisfied with the outcome at the EEOC, then you will need to take your case to court.
Q: Are LGBT federal employees protected under the Civil Service Reform Act?
Yes. The Civil Service Reform Act prohibits discrimination based on, “conduct which does not adversely affect the performance of the applicant or employee,” and this includes sexual orientation. If you file a sexual orientation discrimination claim under the Civil Service Reform Act, your case will go before the Office of Special Counsel or the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) instead of the EEOC.
Q: Where can I find more information about the protections afforded to gay and lesbian federal employees?
For more information, we encourage you to schedule a confidential consultation at Melville Johnson, P.C. One of our attorneys will be happy to meet with you over the phone to discuss your situation and provide you with an assessment of your legal rights. If you would like more general information about how Title VII and the Civil Service Reform Act protect LGBT employees, you can review these resources from the EEOC:
- Fact Sheet: Recent EEOC Cases Involving LGBT Discrimination
- Federal Sector Cases Involving LGBT Employees
- How to File a Charge of Employment Discrimination as a Federal Employee
Schedule Your Confidential Consultation
To schedule your confidential consultation with a federal employment attorney at Melville Johnson, P.C., please call (888) 594-0424 or request a case evaluation online. You only have a limited amount of time to file if you have a claim, so we urge you to contact us as soon as possible.