There many different types of ways that LGBT people can suffer discrimination in the workplace. Sometimes, LGBT people suffer employment discrimination simply because of who they are. Other times, though, the discriminatory animus arises not from the employee’s orientation or identity per se, but from the way in which the LGBT employee expresses him or herself. Regardless of whether your discrimination arose directly from your sexual orientation or indirectly based upon others’ perceptions of your gender expression as insufficiently conforming to their gender stereotypes, it is possible that you’ve suffered illegal discrimination. To learn more about your legal options, including going to court and seeking monetary compensation, be sure to contact an experienced New Jersey employment attorney.
People make all kinds of assumptions and engage in all manner of stereotyping when it comes to gender. Last year, an employee in California won a motion hearing in court and was permitted to proceed to trial on his claim that his employer fired him for being “too gay.” Specifically, the employee alleged that the employer took negative action not because he was homosexual but because he was gay and chose hairstyles and clothing accessories the employer considered insufficiently masculine.
If something of a similar nature happens to you in New Jersey, can you successfully sue your employer? Yes, you quite possibly can. New Jersey’s employment discrimination law forbids workplace discrimination based upon sexual orientation. It also bars employment discrimination based upon gender stereotypes.
There are various different types of facts that you can use as evidence of this type of discrimination. For example, there was a recent case of a North Jersey school principal who allegedly suffered this form of discrimination, according to a nj.com report. The principal was gay and was not “in the closet.” According to his lawsuit, after his employment contract was not renewed, the principal discovered that one of the school board members wrote a letter to the school administration where the board member called the principal a “brazen hussy” and opined that the principal should be terminated “before he does something really weird,” nj.com reported.
The “brazen hussy” epithet that the principal alleged was a particularly strong piece of evidence in his favor. Almost all dictionaries define a “hussy” as an impudent, immoral or ill-behaved woman or girl. Describing the male principal with a word that specifically denotes a female, whether it’s hussy, princess or the “b-word”, implies one of two things, both of which are potentially discrimination. The “hussy” insult indicated that the board member viewed all gay men (including the principal) as insufficiently masculine or else that she viewed this particular gay man as insufficiently masculine. Either way, the adverse employment action taken against the principal potentially represented a violation of the Law Against Discrimination, either as discrimination against the principal as a gay man or discrimination against the principal as someone who failed to meet the board member’s gender stereotypes.
In this case, the principal was able to secure a settlement in excess of $307,000 for his claim.
Two of the biggest keys that you can take away from this case are that, one, it is illegal in New Jersey to discriminate at work based upon an employee’s sexual orientation regardless of whether or not the employee conforms to gender stereotypes. Two, it is illegal in New Jersey to discriminate at work based upon an employee’s gender non-conforming expression, regardless of the employee’s sexual orientation. If you are a gay man who has suffered through insults and other derogatory comments at work that disparage you as inadequately masculine, or if you are a lesbian who has been confronted with comments and barbs on the job that deride you as inadequately feminine, you may be entitled to compensation. Come talk to the skilled New Jersey employment discrimination attorneys at Phillips & Associates about your situation. Our attorneys have spent countless hours working to help our LGBT clients get the fair outcomes they deserve. Reach us online or at (609) 436-9087 to set up a free and confidential consultation and find out how we can help you.
More blog posts:
Sexual Orientation Discrimination and Legal Protections for LGBT People in New Jersey, New Jersey Employment Lawyer Blog, Dec. 14, 2017
Groundbreaking Federal Court Ruling Could Affect New Jersey Transgender Employees in the Future, New Jersey Employment Lawyer Blog, June 16, 2017