Fighting For Important Causes In State And Federal Courts
Discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity can create serious hurdles in the lives those who frequently encounter such injustice. Some of the most common forms of discrimination include being denied access to vital areas most of us take for granted, including work or educational opportunities, housing or other public accommodations, and essential social services. Because rejection is so pervasive, people fail to recognize that this type of discrimination is unconstitutional. For this reason, it continues to be a serious problem.
While most states have laws on the books intended to prevent discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, these laws don’t always have the desired effect. For example, the Humans Relation Act enacted in Pennsylvania is designed to prevent this type of behavior, yet rejection, harassment, and the unfair treatment of individuals based on sexual orientation and gender identity continues in the state.
If you or someone you know is facing discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, you should talk to a qualified attorney who has the skills and dedication to fight for the rights of victims of discrimination. Attorney Andrew Shubin is known for providing vigorous and thoughtful legal representation. With his decades of experience, he is able to handle complex questions on discrimination. To schedule a free and confidential consultation, call (814) 826-3586.
Laws for Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Stereotyping
While the constitution doesn’t consider sexual orientation and gender identity to be federally protected classes, the U.S. Supreme Court has vehemently rejected discriminatory actions and policies informed by stereotyped notions. Problems frequently arise with singling out individuals based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. Not all types of sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination are subject to the same kind of constitutional analysis. Gender-based classifications, for example, are considered inherently suspect.
Discrimination in the workplace is considered under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination in employment. When the discrimination arises in the context of state statutes and governmental policies, these are typically reviewed under the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment.
The U.S. Supreme Court has invalidated statutes that single out a specific gender or foster gender-based differentiation for no legitimate reason. Typically, these statues and policies don’t have a practical purpose, and the discriminatory effect outweighs the intended use. For example:
- Asking female service members to prove that their spouses depended upon them financially to receive certain benefits. Frontiero v. Richardson (1973).
- A statute differentiating between men and women by age was struck down due to the stereotypical assumption that women tend to marry earlier than men. Stanton v. Stanton, 421 U.S. 7 (1975).
- Granting Social Security benefits to widows while denying the same to widowers is unconstitutional. Weinberger v. Wiesenfeld, 420 U.S. 636 (1975).
- A school policy requiring transgender students to use the bathrooms corresponding to their biological gender was struck down the 14thEvancho v. Pine-Richland Sch. Dist. (2017)
If your gender identity or sexual orientation seems to be the focus of a school or work policy without being stated directly, it’s possible you are facing unconstitutional discrimination. With the guidance of an experienced attorney, you can determine if there are causes of action you can pursue.
Gender Stereotyping at Work as Employment Discrimination
Title VII prohibits employment discrimination. Just as sexual orientation and gender identity are not recognized as reasons to discriminate, hurtful actions based on nonconformance to gender stereotypes is unconstitutional. This legal standard is frequently applied in cases involving gay, transgender, lesbian, and queer individuals who face discrimination when their sexual preferences do not conform to traditional gender norms.
Harassment at work is a form of discrimination. It’s unconstitutional to harass employees with hostile conduct centered on sexual orientation and gender identity. Employers cannot create a hostile environment where co-workers engage in daily taunts or aggressive behavior with homophobic or sexist overtones. Meritor Savings Bank v. Vinson (1986).
Employers frequently try to get away with harassing employees by arguing that sexual orientation and gender identity are not protected statuses. However, this doesn’t mean employees have to withstand abusive conduct such as bullying or incessant ridicule.
The constitutional protections afforded to everyone cannot be denied to a transgender individual. Title VII protects workers when an employer engages in harmful actions due to discomfort with the fact that a person has transitioned or is in the process of transitioning from one gender to another, or because the employer doesn’t like that the person identifies as a transgender person. Schroer v. Billington, (2008).
Our Discrimination Attorneys Can Help if Your Rights Were Violated
If you are concerned that the catalyst for your employer’s decision to demote you or deny a promotion was your gender identity or sexual orientation, you should talk to an experienced attorney. If your teachers or school are taking unexpected actions upon learning about your gender identity, attorney Andrew Shubin can help you review and understand your options. The team of attorneys in the law office of Andrew Shubin are compassionate and understand the complex facts involving sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination. To schedule a consultation, call us at (814) 826-3586.