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5 examples of sexual orientation discrimination

Sexual orientation is a protected class, just like race or gender, meaning employers cannot discriminate against workers due to heterosexuality, homosexual or bisexuality.

How do you know if discrimination is present in the workplace? Here are five examples so that you know what to watch out for:

  • Giving workers of a certain sexual orientation lowering rankings and worse reviews than other workers, for no reason other than their orientation.
  • Handing out promotions to workers of one sexual orientation over workers of another.
  • Showing any other type of preferential treatment, such as giving more desirable jobs or positions to those of a specific orientation.
  • Discriminating in any way based on an assumed orientation, whether that is true or not. For instance, it is illegal to pass over someone for a promotion on the grounds that he or she is thought to be of a homosexual orientation, even if the reality is that the worker is of a heterosexual orientation.
  • Insulting someone, making disparaging remarks, threatening them or doing any other type of bullying based on orientation. Any action that can create a hostile work environment is prohibited.

It is worth noting that not all workers will agree on what creates a hostile work environment. For example, one worker could feel that he or she is being bullied while others say they're just joking around. This could still make a hostile workplace, even if the workers carrying out the discrimination did not have that intent.

It is very important for people to know all of their rights in the workplace and what legal options they have when those rights are breached.

Source: Office of the Statewide Equal Employment Opportunity Coordinator, "Sexual Orientation Discrimination," accessed Jan. 04, 2018

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