Can You Be Fired for Being Gay? How to Protect Your Right

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Gay rights still have a long way to go. Yes, gay marriages are legal in many states, but there are some areas in which the gay community is a hard “nope.” And while there is a movement where the gay community is being slowly but surely accepted, not everyone shares these beliefs.

While some states are trying to make it easier for people from the LGBT community to integrate, others seem to be far from it. That being said, we all have to work – and with potential colleagues or even your boss turning the stink eye in your direction, you may wonder: can I actually get fired?

The answer is that it depends. Employers have been firing people as an act of discrimination for a long time, but only some states offer you protection. You will need to familiarize yourself with the law.

Where Are You Protected?

There are only a couple of states where you can bring the law to your side if you get fired based on sexual discrimination and gender identity. The states that offer you full protection are Colorado, Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, Utah, New Mexico, Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois, New York, Maryland, New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, Maine, and Rhode Island.

This can also depend on the federal law, even if the state law technically protects you. For example, in Seattle, federal law doesn’t offer you many advantages when it comes to discrimination for sexual orientation. However, if any incidents happen, lawyers can still protect you in case of an unfortunate circumstance.

This will mainly depend on the nature of the event. If you are injured and you aren’t able to work for a while, causing you to get fired, a Seattle personal injury lawyer will most likely help you achieve justice.

Whether the injury was a result of workplace bullying or the layoff caused by discrimination, the lawyer will have several claims to bring to court that could actually protect your rights.

Most discrimination events go under the Equality Act of 2010, which protects you against all kinds of discrimination – whether it is direct or indirect. The Equality Act is updated every year based on state laws, and gender identity has also been added to that list. This means that if your state or local laws have that coverage, then you may be able to obtain justice.

Rights Changed Based on State

Non-discrimination laws are getting passed all over the United States, with almost half of them having some sort of statewide protection. Some states such as Montana or Arizona only offer equality protection for public employees, the others being left uncovered. Wisconsin and New Hampshire only offer protection against discrimination based on sexual orientation but have no coverage for gender identity aspects.

However, some states are the complete opposite. Some offer no statewide protection, whereas others prevent the passage and enforcement of LGBT non-discrimination laws. This means that in Arkansas and Tennessee, you can actually be fired for being gay, and you cannot really bring that complaint to court. North Carolina also blocks local non-discrimination laws, but it can still protect some public employees of the LGBT community.

Some states such as Kansas, Texas, Georgia, or Florida do not have specific coverage for gay discrimination, but still, protect against general discrimination. In other states, while some cases of discrimination are helped, the gay community is still pushed underneath a veil.

For instance, Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill sparked uproar in the LGBT community of the state, under the claims that their rights and voices were oppressed. The community believes that this will hurt the LGBT children, who will be hidden important facts about their families.

How Do You Protect Your Rights?

Protecting your rights mainly depends on the state that you are in. In some states, you can sue the company that has fired you or allowed workplace discrimination to happen to you. In other states, the law may turn a blind eye. Even if state law protects you, there is no guarantee that the federal law will protect you as well.

This is why you may want to consult the laws of the area you work in, from local to statewide laws. If the state law protects you and you can bring proof of gay discrimination, you can do something about your case.

If the situation in your state is complicated, you may want to have a good lawyer by your side. If there are any loopholes and if they can prove the entire situation brought injustice, whether physical or circumstantially, then they may be able to reach a court settlement.

The Bottom Line

In some states, you can’t get fired for being gay – but in others, there is nothing stopping your boss from doing so. Some states help you get justice, others don’t. It mostly depends on what the state laws say and how good your lawyer is.