California’s LGBT Discrimination Laws in the Workplace


California takes LGBT rights very seriously. The state has enacted LGBT discrimination laws pertaining to employment that go hand-in-hand with federal discrimination laws, but what are they – and what happens if someone violates them?

California’s LGBT Discrimination Laws in the Workplace

Like many other forms of discrimination, LGBT discrimination in the workplace is against the law in California.

The Fair Employment and Housing Act, or FEHA, prevents discrimination based on sexual orientation. The most common violations of this act involve an employer discriminating against an employee (or a prospective employee) because the person is lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.

It’s important to note that the employee does not have to be part of the LGBT community – that is, the person doesn’t have to be lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender – in order for sexual orientation discrimination to take place. Although it is far more rare, heterosexual discrimination can occur and is also illegal under the Fair Employment and Housing Act.

FEHA’s Laws Barring Discrimination in Business Practices

The Fair Employment and Housing Act bars discrimination in business practices across the state, including:

  • Advertising
  • Applications, screening and interviews
  • Compensation
  • Hiring, transferring, terminating, promotion and separating employees
  • Participation in apprenticeships or training, as well as employee organizations and unions
  • Working conditions

Examples of LGBT Discrimination Law Violations

Employers violate LGBT discrimination laws by:

  • Denying a job, promotion, raise or benefits to a person based on that person’s sexual orientation or gender identity
  • Preventing a person from accessing job resources that are available to other employees based on that person’s real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity
  • Denying a person access to educational and training programs based on that person’s real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity
  • Harassing or retaliating against an employee who files a complaint (or who helps another person file a complaint) of discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity
  • Engaging in or sanctioning continuing discriminatory conduct that creates a hostile work environment for employees

Remedies Available for Victims of LGBT Discrimination Law Violations

If your employer or potential employer discriminated against you in violation of LGBT discrimination laws, you could have legal recourse. The law provides for remedies such as:

  • Attorney’s fees
  • Back pay
  • Coverage of out-of-pocket expenses
  • Damages for emotional distress
  • Future lost earnings
  • Hiring or reinstatement
  • Policy changes
  • Promotion
  • Punitive damages
  • Reasonable accommodations
  • Training

What to Do if You’ve Been Discriminated Against by an Employer

You and your LGBT discrimination attorney will have to prove that discrimination occurred. Typically, it’s best if you keep track – by way of a written record – of what’s happened to you (including names of the offenders and dates that the alleged discrimination took place).

Your attorney may suggest that you talk to the source about your issue first; if that doesn’t work, he might tell you to take your concerns to your company’s human resources department. If you have been fired or otherwise terminated, your lawyer will give you guidance on what to do next.

Call us at 818-805-6145 for a free case evaluation now. We may be able to help you get the compensation you deserve.