Even though Minnesota was the first state in the United States to ban workplace discrimination based on gender identity, too many lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender, and non-binary (LGBTQ+) employees continue to face unlawful discrimination. If you have recently experienced sexual orientation discrimination or gender identity discrimination in your workplace, it’s vital that you seek legal advice from an experienced attorney. Here at MJSB Employment Justice, we value being an advocate on your behalf, so you can focus on moving forward and overcoming the life-altering situation you’ve been experiencing.
What Is Sexual Orientation Discrimination?
No federal laws prohibit discrimination based on gender identity, yet the Minnesota state law does as a result of its broad definition of “sexual orientation discrimination” under the Minnesota Human Rights Act (MHRA). The MHRA defines “sexual orientation” as “having or being perceived as having an emotional, physical, or sexual attachment to another person without regard to the sex of that person or having or being perceived as having an orientation for such attachment, or having or being perceived as having a self-image or identity not traditionally associated with one’s biological maleness or femaleness.” (MN Stat § 363A.03) The MHRA prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation in a variety of settings, including:
- Public Accommodations
- Public Services
Several Minnesota cities also have ordinances that prohibit sexual orientation and transgender discrimination in the workplace. Sexual orientation discrimination typically refers to discrimination based on sexual identity as gay, lesbian, or bi-sexual. Gender identity discrimination refers to transgender discrimination.
Understanding Micro and Macroaggressions
Many micro and macroaggressions can provide the basis to hold your employer accountable for discrimination based on your preferred gender identity. A microaggression refers to subtle daily interactions or behaviors, either intentional or unintentional, that communicate a bias toward a marginalized group. Often, those who commit microaggressions are unaware of their actions. In comparison, a macroaggression refers to overt discrimination or acts of racism toward everyone of a specific race, gender, sexual orientation, or immigration. Examples of conduct that may be considered gender identity discrimination include, but are not limited to:
- The use of jokes, slurs, and derogatory or inflammatory comments about your gender identity, your significant other’s, or your spouse’s
- Refusing to allow you, if you are transgender, to use the bathroom associated with the gender you identify with
- Terminating you when you inform your employer of the intent to transition to another gender
- Bypassing you for a promotion based on your gender identity
- Terminating you for cross-dressing outside the workplace
You have the right to take action if you experience outright discrimination, harassment, or find your employment is adversely affected based on your sexual orientation or gender identity. It’s vital that you document what you’ve experienced carefully. If you are still employed, the documentation should be stored off the work network and instead on a personal device or in a notebook. Note the day, time, witnesses, and specific comments or descriptions of the behavior you’ve experienced in your log. Any written materials, such as emails, texts, chat messages, or documents containing any offending material, should also be saved or screenshotted, if possible.
While notes and supporting documentation are not necessary, both can be very helpful. Whether you are able to collect this, you may have a right to take action against your employer – especially if you were terminated as a result of your gender identity or sexual orientation. Seeking legal advice regarding further action based on your unique situation is highly recommended. Hiring an attorney, or even seeking the initial consultation of an employee rights lawyer, can help you better understand your rights, what to do, and how to move forward to hold your employer accountable.
There are a variety of other local resources and networks that are fighting for LGBTQ+ employee justice. Many organizations offer counseling and training opportunities for employers too. Below are a few monumental resources and networks local to the Minnesota area:
Contact a Dedicated Minneapolis Advocate Attorney Today
Here at MJSB Employment Justice, we celebrate the fact that Minnesota law has protections for LGBTQ+ employees, and we recognize that more steps need to be taken to further protect LGBTQ+ workers from unlawful workplace discrimination. If you experienced workplace gender identity discrimination or sexual orientation discrimination, contact us today. You can also visit us at the Twin Cities Pride Festival.