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How to Handle a Complaint of Sexual Orientation Discrimination

Author: William Denham, Shortt & Nguyen, PC

Title VII - the federal law that forbids most forms of discrimination in the workplace - currently does not prohibit private sector employees from discriminating against employees based on sexual orientation. However, a number of states and other federal laws (e.g., for federal civil service employees) do forbid discrimination based on sexual orientation in the workplace. Moreover, a number of employers as a matter of policy prohibit discrimination based on an employee's sexual orientation or gender identity. Thus, employers should carefully review all applicable laws, as well as their own policies, to determine whether sexual orientation is recognized as a protected category. Assuming that it is protected, employers should take the following steps to address a complaint of sexual orientation discrimination.