Gay Discrimination in the Workplace Demystified

iEditorial Note: These blog posts represent the opinion of DoNotPay’s Writers, but each person’s situation and circumstances vary greatly. As a result, you should make sure to do your own independent research. Because everyone is unique, our self-help tools are never guaranteed to help with any specific situation. DoNotPay is not a law firm and is not licensed to practice law. DoNotPay provides a platform for legal information and self-help.

Recognize Gay Discrimination in the Workplace and Stand Up for Your Rights

Workplace discrimination can take many forms, some of them being so subtle that they are difficult to recognize.

DoNotPay presents recent examples of gay discrimination at work that can help you recognize illegal behavior and fight back!

What Is the Law on Gay Discrimination?

Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1963, discrimination is described as the different treatment of individuals or groups based on their:

Although LGBTQ+ status is not mentioned in the act, several recent landmark court cases have guaranteed that your sexual orientation is also protected from employment discrimination.

Federal law is boosted in some states by specific laws that legislate against gay discrimination.

The states that offer legal framework to cover gay discrimination are:

Level of Legal ProtectionStates
Protection for sexual orientation and gender identityWashington, Oregon, California, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois, Virginia, District of Columbia, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Maine, New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Hawaii
Extension of existing laws to include sexual orientation and gender identityAlaska, Arizona, Texas, Kansas, Nebraska, Florida, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and North Dakota
Protection for sexual orientationWisconsin

The following states do not refer to sexual orientation in their discrimination laws:

  • Idaho
  • Montana
  • Wyoming
  • South Dakota
  • Oklahoma
  • Missouri
  • Arkansas
  • Louisiana
  • Missouri
  • Alabama
  • Georgia
  • South Carolina
  • North Carolina
  • Tennessee
  • Kentucky
  • West Virginia
  • Ohio
  • Indiana

In these states, you may have to use federal law to combat gay discrimination at work.

What Are the Symptoms of Gays and Lesbian Discrimination in the Workplace?

Discrimination does not have to be obvious, and it is rarely perpetrated openly.

Open discrimination by an employer—involving company policies and procedures that favor some individuals or groups over others—is called de jure discrimination and is easy to spot and fight.

More subtle forms of gay discrimination at work are:

  1. De facto discrimination
  2. Harassment
  3. Wage discrimination
  4. Retaliation

De Facto Discrimination

De facto discrimination takes place despite anti-discrimination policies and involves supervisors or managers using discriminatory practices in the discharge of their jobs. Examples of de facto discrimination would be:

  • The company does not invite an employee’s same-sex partner to a company function
  • A company policy provides medical insurance for opposite-sex spouses but excludes same-sex spouses


Harassment comes in many guises, ranging from seemingly random banter to overt bullying. The most common forms in the workplace are:

Wage Discrimination

It is illegal to pay anyone different rates for doing the same work—this is entrenched in the Equal Pay Act of 1963. If you can link a pay differential to your sexual orientation, your employer may be guilty of discriminating against you.

An example would be your employer excluding you from bonus or commission schemes that are available to other employees due to your LGBTQ+ status.


Your employer is not allowed to retaliate against you if you complain about discrimination. There are many cases of employees complaining of gay discrimination and subsequently being demoted, sidelined, or even terminated, even though their employer claimed other reasons. All of these acts are illegal.

What Should You Do About Gay Discrimination at Work?

If you want to combat gay discrimination in the workplace, you will need to collect evidence.

The burden of proof is on you to demonstrate that your employer is guilty of discrimination, but you only need to justify your allegation on the balance of probability.

Your evidence should consist of the following:

Type of EvidenceExplanation
Record of incidentsYou should make a written record of every incident of gay discrimination, including:
  • What happened and when
  • Who the perpetrator was
  • Who witnessed the occurrence
Official HR grievancesEven if it feels like you are repeating yourself, you should log a grievance with your HR department for every incident of gay discrimination. The grievance should be in writing, and you need to make sure it is filed officially
Company policyYour company should have a written policy document setting out its stance on discrimination. This is important to establish whether your employer is implementing the company’s policies or not

If you are unsuccessful in solving the issue internally, your next port of call is the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission (EEOC).

What Can the EEOC Do To Help You?

The EEOC is mandated to investigate your case and help you towards a resolution with your employer.

The resolution may consist of:

  • A dismissal of your case if the EEOC investigation reveals there isn’t enough evidence
  • A suggestion to work towards a mediated out-of-court settlement
  • Written permission for you to start a private lawsuit using a discrimination lawyer
  • Commencement of legal action against your employer by the EEOC

You cannot launch a private lawsuit without permission to do so from the EEOC, so your first action must be to file a complaint against your employer.

Filing your complaint or charge of discrimination can involve you attending an in-person interview at the nearest EEOC office. This could be many miles away, meaning the whole process becomes difficult and time-consuming.

Thankfully, DoNotPay is here to help—we can with the EEOC in a matter of minutes!

DoNotPay Gets Your EEOC Complaint Filed in a Flash

DoNotPay is your go-to resource for simplifying complicated and time-consuming tasks.

All you need to do to file your charge of discrimination is follow these steps:

  1. in your web browser
  2. Find our Fight Workplace Discrimination product
  3. Fill in the details of your charge

The rest is up to us—we will file your charge, and the EEOC will contact you to discuss your next steps.

Money Doesn’t Grow on Trees, but DoNotPay Is a Close Second

Experiencing workplace discrimination can affect the victim in more ways than one. Filing a report with the EEOC should help, but in reality, people sometimes lose jobs if they stand up to bullies.

If that happens to you, there are several ways how DoNotPay can help. Our app is a great resource for fighting injustice and administration, but it can also help you save and earn money if you lose your regular income:

Saving MoneyEarning Money

We Can Help You Fight for Your Rights

DoNotPay was created to support anyone who feels small and helpless in front of big corporations, confusing administration, or downright criminals.

We can help you get a refund even when companies won’t budge, stop email and text message scams, protect your work from copyright infringement, save yourself from stalking and harassment, or even take individuals or companies to small claims court!

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