A Williams Institute study (2016) showed that 81% of transgender workers in Florida were harassed or mistreated, 46% were not hired, 36% lost a job, and 29% were denied a promotion. These numbers on transgender job discrimination in Florida are staggering, although hardly a surprise to any member of the trans community. Although some progress has been made in the visibility and acceptance of transgender individuals, discrimination is a very real problem, especially in the area of employment. And despite the fact that some local communities have passed laws to protect members of the LGBTQ community, the same study showed that 46% of Florida’s workforce is not covered by local laws that protect workers from discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
Transgender workers (or those hoping to be hired) who are discriminated against may have options under the law to combat bad actors. The federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is responsible for enforcing federal laws that make it illegal to discriminate in employment against a job applicant, employee, or former employee because of the person's race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information. The EEOC has stated that
"[w]hile Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 does not explicitly include sexual orientation or gender identity in its list of protected bases, the Commission, consistent with Supreme Court case law ... interprets the statute's sex discrimination provision as prohibiting discrimination against employees on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity."
Here in Florida, there is no state-wide protection against sexual orientation or gender identity / expression workplace discrimination. But, several local communities have changed their anti-discrimination laws to include protections for sexual orientation or gender identity / expression. In Orange County, where Mark Elliott Law has its offices, the local Human Rights ordinance prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. This ordinance allows victims of discrimination to file suit against bad actors who discriminate in employment, housing, or public accommodations (hotels, restaurants, etc.). Sometimes filing a lawsuit is the only way to stop the discrimination and to provide an avenue for a victim to perhaps be hired for a job they are qualified for or to be compensated. The goals of a monetary award are both to compensate the person for their rights having been violated and to punish a bad actor (punitive damages).
If you are experiencing discrimination at work or anticipate discriminatory action in the near future, Mark Elliott Law may be able to help you assess your rights and speak about your difficulties with your employer before matters rise to the level of a lawsuit. You must be diligent about documenting everything that’s happening around the workplace issue at hand, including the preservation of email, texts, and any other relevant documentation. It is also very important to keep note of the people involved and the time, date, and place where incidents have occurred. You should then report the issues you are experiencing to your employer. If your employer looks into your complaint and is not able to remedy the situation or wrongly finds that you have not experienced discrimination, it may be necessary to file a lawsuit or a complaint with a government agency, depending on the facts at hand.
If you are experiencing discrimination and are not able to resolve the matter on your own, Mark Elliott Law may be able to assist you. Learn more about your rights to be free from gender identity and expression discrimination and contact our Orlando law office if you have questions about how we can help.