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Thursday, January 3, 2019

NJ Gay Employees, Sexualizing by Employees and the Double Standard

While strides have been made for LGBTQ persons (lesbians and gays particularly with the passage of the 2015 Marriage Equality Act) a double standard exists in some workplaces that results in a less than friendly workplace for LGBTQ workers. This double standard results in a work environment where sexual orientation for LGBTQ employees is still sexualized as documented in a study earlier this year released by the Human rights Campaign.

Sexualizing Gay Employees and the Double Standard

While non-LGBTQ persons may regularly make light conversation or comments regarding their dating situation, they may not accept LGBTQ workers doing the same because they fear hearing about an LGBTQ person’s sex life. The same is true for LGBTQ workers who are married or in other long-term committed same-sex relationships.

Sexualizing LGBTQ persons also occurs when a co-worker or supervisor think they have a license to make sexually inappropriate jokes or comments because they wrongly believe that these comments are sanctioned because of the out-of-closet employee’s gender identity or sexual orientation. Over half of LGBTQ persons who took part in this study reported hearing workplace jokes about lesbians or gays, 41% hearing transgender specific jokes and 37% hearing bisexual specific jokes in their workplace.

In the four years from 2013 to 2107, LGBT discrimination filings with one federal government forum increased more than 109%. 

A sample of these types of claims is as follows:

  • On March 2, 2018, a federal district court ordered an Arizona wine bar to pay $100,000 for sexual harassment against two servers because of their perceived or actual sexual orientation.  Although the two employees complained to their supervisors, the supervisors did nothing about the egregious conduct, and one supervisor actually participated in the harassment. When one server complained about the harassment including touching, egregious name calling, comments and innuendos, and mentioned that he planned on taking legal action, he was terminated. 
  •  On July 24, 2018, Collection Company in Illinois paid $25,000 to settle a suit where the employee alleged he was subjected to sexual orientation harassment.
  • On April 26, 2018, a car dealership paid $100,000 to settle a sexual orientation and disability discrimination lawsuit. It was alleged that the car dealership subjected employee to harassment for being gay and having Crohn's disease.
  • On December 20, 2017, an employer paid $70,000 to settle a sexual harassment claim where the company subjected a male employee to hostile work environment because of his sexual orientation. The employee alleged his coworkers referred to him with homophobic slurs and offensive language, and his supervisor made him the target of derogatory homophobic jokes, including giving him a Santa cap with a Spanish slang word for "homosexual" on it.

If an LGBTQ employee in New Jersey wants to file a claim for discrimination and harassment under the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the complaining employee first has to exhaust lengthy time-consuming administrative remedies before he/she even may file in court, with the end result that he/she may eventfully be permitted to file a lawsuit in Federal Court. 

But fortunately for LGBTQ employees in New Jersey, they may file a claim directly and quickly in State Court under the state’s strong anti-discrimination statute, the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination, which prohibits all such harassment based on gender identity/orientation and sexual orientation.

What You Can Do

I am an aggressive and compassionate employment law attorney who is successful in representing LGBTQ executive and low level employees and recovering money for their being subjected to discrimination. I have successfully represented LGBTQ employees who were either terminated or forced out of their employment because of the bias against them and was successful in obtaining monetary compensation for them.

If you are being subjected to such unlawful workplace discrimination, contact Hope A. Lang, Attorney at Law today for a free consultation.

New Jersey employment attorney, Hope A. Lang, Attorney at Law serves clients throughout the state, including Bergen, Middlesex, Essex, Hudson, Monmouth, Ocean, Union, Camden, Passaic, and Morris Counties with locations in Southern, Central, Western and Northern NJ to meet with clients.



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