Laws Prohibiting Discrimination Against Gays and Lesbians FAQ

Can an employer discriminate against me based on my sexual orientation?

Sexual orientation discrimination includes being treated differently or harassed because of your real or perceived sexual orientation -- whether gay, lesbian, bisexual, or heterosexual. This type of discrimination may be illegal in your workplace, depending on where your job is located.

Although the federal government provides no protection, about half of the states and the District of Columbia prohibit sexual orientation discrimination in both public and private jobs. A few states prohibit discrimination in public workplaces only. Even if your state doesn't protect you, your city or county might. Over 180 cities and counties prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in at least some workplaces. Finally, some individual employers and companies have adopted their own policies prohibiting workplace discrimination against gays and lesbians. To find out which states have antidiscrimination laws and to learn about other laws which might protect you, see Nolo's article Sexual Orientation Discrimination: Your Rights.

For additional information on laws affecting LGBT couples, see A Legal Guide for Lesbian & Gay Couples, by by Denis Clifford, Frederick Hertz, and Emily Doskow (Nolo).

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