Sexual Orientation Discrimination2023-07-18T15:14:20-05:00
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Sexual Orientation Discrimination

LGBT discrimination in the workplace has been a significant barrier for individuals who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, pansexual or another sexual minority group. And until very recently, sexual orientation was not protected under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

In a landmark U.S. Supreme Court case, Bostock v. Clayton County (2020), the Court ruled that discrimination on the basis of sex also includes sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination. Sexual orientation discrimination is now prohibited by federal law. Unfortunately, this recent victory does not guarantee LGBT employees will not encounter some form of discriminatory behavior in their place of employment.

The law firm of Herrmann & Murphy fights for equal treatment of all employees, including LGBTQIA+ individuals who have experienced sexual orientation discrimination in North Carolina and South Carolina. To learn more about Herrmann & Murphy’s employment law expertise, and to confidentially discuss your concerns with an employment rights attorney, contact our law firm.


What is Sexual Orientation Discrimination?

Sexual orientation discrimination can be defined as an adverse employment decision which is based on a person’s sexuality, whether known or perceived. Adverse actions could include firing, refusing to hire or demoting a person because they are gay or associated with someone in the queer community. LGBT employees may also experience sexual harassment, assault or disability discrimination related to their HIV/AIDS status.

Individuals who identify as trans, genderfluid or gender nonbinary who believe they have experienced discrimination in the workplace may have encountered a form of prohibited behavior known as gender identity discrimination.

Is LGBT Discrimination Illegal in North Carolina & South Carolina?

In both North Carolina and South Carolina, federal and state law prohibit workplace discrimination against several protected classes, including age, sex, race, ethnicity, disability, veteran status, religion, and pregnancy.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruling in June 2020 established sexual orientation discrimination as a form of sex discrimination, and extended protection to LGBT employees under federal law for the first time. All government employers and companies with 15+ employees are subject to federal employment anti-discrimination laws.

State law in North Carolina and South Carolina closely follow the protected classes of Title VII and case law interpreting Title VII. Using this logic, protections similar to federal law would be extended to LGBTQIA+ individuals at the state level. Because this legal precedent is new and evolving, it is critical to select an employment rights attorney with expertise in sexual orientation discrimination lawsuits.


Sexual Orientation Discrimination Cases in North Carolina & South Carolina

The employment protections identified in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 are extended to all government employees, as well as those who work for a business in any state with 15+ employees. State, local and/or municipal laws in North Carolina and South Carolina may also apply.

In North Carolina, the law requires a Charge of Discrimination to be filed with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) within 180 days of the discriminatory action.

In South Carolina, victims can bring a claim to the EEOC typically within 300 days of the discriminatory action, per the South Carolina Human Affairs Law. However, for cases of sexual orientation discrimination, it is best to file a claim within 180 days to avoid a dispute over interpretations of South Carolina state law.

We strongly recommend consulting an employment rights attorney before going to the EEOC if time allows, and if the adverse action did not take place more than five months ago.

If you believe you have experienced sexual orientation discrimination in hiring processes or in the workplace, contact our North Carolina and South Carolina employment discrimination attorneys.


FAQs: Filing a Sexual Orientation Discrimination Lawsuit

What are some examples of sexual orientation discrimination?2021-07-14T16:42:05-05:00

The law does not forbid simple teasing or occasional thoughtless remarks. Harassment and discrimination are legal terms referring to serious injustices, which can create a toxic work environment for LGBT employees.

Possible examples of sexual orientation discrimination in the workplace could include:

  • An employer’s refusal to extend employment benefits to a same-sex spouse
  • Management asking an employee not to bring their same-sex partner to company events, such as a holiday party or company picnic
  • Firing or demoting an employee shortly after they come out
  • A supervisor using their personal religious beliefs to justify terminating an LGBT employee
  • Coworkers regularly using homophobic slurs to refer to another employee
I’m being harassed at work because I am gay. What should I do?2021-07-14T16:40:02-05:00

Employees often feel worried or unsure about reporting concerns to their employer or to the EEOC, including fear of possibly being retaliated against. Know that you have the option to meet with an attorney to discuss your concerns and evaluate possible legal remedies at any time.

It is also important to be aware of your employer’s anti-harassment and discrimination policies, and to follow the established procedures to report harassment. In certain scenarios, the law provides a defense for employers when the employee has not followed company policy to report harassment.

You are not legally required to disclose your sexual orientation and/or gender identity, but this may be necessary during the process of reporting harassment to your employer. Consult an attorney specializing in sexual orientation discrimination for more information.

What is the difference between sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination?2021-07-14T16:37:50-05:00

Sexual orientation refers to a person’s sexual attractions, whether heterosexual (opposite sex), homosexual (including gay or lesbian), bisexual, pansexual or otherwise. Gender identity refers to the way a person self-identifies as male or female (or nonconforming).

A person can experience sexual orientation and/or gender identity discrimination regardless of whether or not their identity has been disclosed, and may experience adversity simply because their peers think they belong to the queer community.


Speak to a Sexual Orientation Discrimination Attorney

Herrmann & Murphy is proud to support the LGBTQ+ community in North Carolina and South Carolina, and to fight against sexual orientation discrimination in the workplace. If you are a victim of LGBT discrimination and would like to speak with an attorney, schedule your confidential consultation online or call our office directly.

To reach our Charlotte office in North Carolina, call (704) 940-6399.

To reach our Greenville office in South Carolina, call (864) 516-7526.


Kevin Murphy of Herrmann & Murphy

Kevin Murphy

Sean Herrmann of Herrmann & Murphy

Sean Herrmann

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