If you identify as LGBTQI+, the world of work can be even more daunting and complex than otherwise. What are your rights at work?
Unfortunately, there’s no clear answer to that question. Your legal protections vary by state and type of employer. As of this writing, there are still 26 states that offer no explicit protection against discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. 26! Check the map (http://www.lgbtmap.org/equality-maps/non_discrimination_laws) to see the state of your state.
Now, things are a little more complicated in real life, and it’s still possible, in some places, to be fired if your employer learns you live under that rainbow banner. I can’t tell you if that happens frequently or not, but I live in a state that has overall high protection ratings regarding equity and I can tell you that I’ve seen some cases of discrimination anyway. A friend of mine used to be the legal advisor for an LGBTQI+ nonprofit in state, but eventually the heaviness of the work and the frustration of so few wins burned her out, so the battle remains an uphill one. Add to that an administration that has not been supportive of civil rights for LGBTQI+ folks and things can start to feel awfully disheartening.
The good news is that the number of states offering legal protection is rising, if slowly. I believe that the passage of marriage equality will only help matters, as even the oldest of old-fashioned workplaces recognize to the same-sex spouses of their workers whose sexual orientation they didn’t know a decade ago. And despite some downright discouraging reports (like this GLAAD survey from early last year), public support does seem to be growing (https://www.washingtonblade.com/2018/02/02/opinion-glaad-survey/).
What can you do if you’ve been discriminated against at work? Check out Thursday’s post for some general tips—but, alas, no easy answers.