I constantly face harassment at the workplace because of my gay sexual orientation. Are there any laws that protect me?

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Question:

Some of my co-workers harass me because I am gay.  My manager ignores the harassment, although I've brought it to his attention several times.  I'm afraid if I continue to complain about it, I'll be labeled a troublemaker and lose my job.  What are my rights?

Answer:

Although employees of the federal government are currently protected from sexual orientation discrimination, no federal law exists that specifically outlaws discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in the private sector.  So, if you have a federal job, the law is in place to protect your rights, but if you work for a private company, it's not that simple.

However, almost half the states and the District of Columbia have laws in place to protect employees from sexual orientation discrimination, and depending upon where you live, you may also be protected from this type of discrimination by city and county ordinances.  More and more companies are also adopting their own policies regarding sexual orientation discrimination, with policies that prohibit such conduct and sometimes provide guidelines for dealing with managers who discriminate.  Sanctions may include disciplinary action, suspension, and termination of employment.

The best way for you to find out what your rights are is to consult with an attorney familiar with sexual orientation discrimination laws in your area.

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