Everyone deserves the right to a job with dignity, free from discrimination because of who they love or who they are.

You might not think that workplace discrimination is still a pressing reality in 2018. In our Out at Work Roundtable, Javier Muñoz, Jameka Evans, Sean Simonson, and Simone Bell share their stories of negotiating the workplace as LGBTQ people and people living with HIV.

Simone Bell

Southern Regional Director at Lambda Legal, and the first Black, out lesbian to serve in a state legislature (in Georgia).

Javier Muñoz

Activist, performer, and 2017 Lambda Legal Liberty Award recipient. Best known for starring as Alexander Hamilton in Hamilton.

Sean Simonson

Lambda Legal client and retired employee of Oswego County, New York who obtained a favorable settlement after the county denied coverage of his transition-related health care.

Jameka Evans

Lambda Legal client and Savannah security guard who was harassed at work and forced from her job because she is a lesbian.

HAVE YOU EXPERIENCED DISCRIMINATION AT WORK?

If you’ve been discriminated against because of your sexual orientation, gender identity, or HIV status (in hiring, firing, promotion, benefits, or work conditions), you have rights.

If you live in a place where state law protects you, you can challenge the discrimination through state law. Wherever you live, you can file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Know Your Rights

Still need help?

Contact Lambda Legal’s Help Desk

We’ll help you figure out what steps to take; whether it’s us taking your case, providing you with resources, or connecting you with another attorney.

THE FIGHT FOR FULL CIVIL RIGHTS

Everyone needs a job. The ability to put a roof over your head and feed yourself or your family is one of the most basic needs; freedom from discrimination is an essential part of that.

The fight for LGBT workplace protections is part of the larger struggle for full civil rights for all LGBT people. It’s also part of the struggle for jobs with dignity and justice. That includes protection against discrimination for people of color, immigrants, women, religious minorities, people living with disabilities (including HIV) and more. It includes living wages and safe work conditions.

Nobody's rights are ensured until everyone's are ensured.

ARGUMENT: THE CIVIL RIGHTS ACT PROTECTS LGBT PEOPLE

As our society’s understanding of who LGBT people are has evolved – from seeing us as criminals and deviants to instead recognizing us as normal people who love, live, raise families and contribute to society – bad interpretations of the law skewed by outdated and prejudiced views have given way to appropriate interpretations of the law.

This is what is happening with the understanding of Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination in employment. Title VII bars discrimination based on sex (among other things), and courts are increasingly understanding that to fully protect someone against sex discrimination, you have to protect them against sexual orientation discrimination as well.

Lambda Legal's client Kim Hively, for instance, was fired from her job after she was seen kissing her girlfriend in the parking lot at work. Had she been a man kissing the same girlfriend, she wouldn’t have been fired, and that fact made her firing illegal under Title VII’s prohibition on sex discrimination. In this way, sexual orientation discrimination is a subset of sex discrimination.

And thanks to Vandy Beth Glenn, Izza Lopez and others, courts now generally recognize that sex discrimination laws protect transgender people from being mistreated on the job due to their gender identity or gender transition.

Kim Hively and Greg Nevins, Lambda Legal Counsel and Employment Fairness Project Director
Kim Hively and Greg Nevins, Lambda Legal Counsel and Employment Fairness Project Director

Cases

HORTON V. MIDWEST GERIATRIC MANAGEMENT

Mark Horton

In 2016 Mark Horton’s job offer was rescinded when he revealed he was in a same-sex partnership.

Mark Horton filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri claiming sex discrimination (Title VII), religious discrimination and fraudulent inducement. The case was dismissed.

Schuver filed an appeal in the 8th Circuit on March 7, 2018, with Lambda Legal joining.

Read more about the case »

EVANS V. GEORGIA REGIONAL HOSPITAL

Jameka Evans

In 2013 in Georgia, Jameka Evans was harassed out of her job as a hospital security guard because she is a lesbian. She fought back and took the case to the courts, which said that the Civil Rights Act doesn’t protect her.

But we know differently. The Civil Rights Act should (and does!) protect employees from sexual orientation discrimination.

That's why Jameka and Lambda Legal appealed her case to the Supreme Court. And though the Supreme Court declined to hear the case, we know that they will be called on to settle the matter of whether federal law prohibits sexual orientation discrimination once and for all.

Read more about the case »

Transgender Rights

Glenn v. Brumby

VandyBeth Glenn

In 2011, Lambda Legal won a landmark ruling in Glenn v. Brumby in the Eleventh Circuit, a case of a woman who was fired for coming out as trans at work.

Read more about the case »

Transgender Rights

Lopez v. River Oaks

Izza Lopez

In 2008, Lambda Legal filed a federal discrimination lawsuit on behalf of Izza Lopez, a 26-year-old trans woman whose job offer was revoked because she is transgender.

Read more about the case »

HIV Rights

Taylor v. Rice

Lambda Legal represented Lorenzo Taylor after he was denied employment by the U.S. Foreign Service because he was living with HIV. Lambda Legal’s suit on his behalf ended when the State Department adopted new hiring guidelines and lifted its ban on HIV-positive Foreign Service Officers.

Read more about the case »

HIV Rights

Lambda Legal helped secure a settlement on behalf of a certified nursing assistant who was fired after disclosing he was living with HIV.

Read more about the case »

Gay and Lesbian Rights

Hively v. Ivy Tech

Kim Hively

In April 2017, Lambda Legal won a landmark victory in Hively v. Ivy Tech. The full Seventh Circuit ruled that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act protects employees from discrimination due to their sexual orientation.

Read more about the case »

Gay and Lesbian Rights

Zarda v. Altitude Express

Our brief in Zarda v. Altitude Express

In September 2017, Lambda Legal argued another LGBT workplace discrimination case, Zarda v. Altitude Express, to the full Second Circuit Court of Appeals. In February 2018, the court ruled you can't be fired for being gay.

Read more about the case »