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Sexual orientation and workplace discrimination

With same-sex marriage winning such a resounding victory last year, it might seem like a given that discrimination in the workplace based on sexual orientation would be on the books. Surprisingly, that's not the case. The federal laws say that no one can be discriminated against based on religion, color, sex, national origin or race, but there's no specific mention of sexual orientation. In fact, several federal courts in the past have ruled that gay and lesbian employees aren't protected by the same workplace discrimination laws as everyone else.

Two cases are currently trying to change that. One woman, a professor in Chicago, says that she was denied a promotion to full-time employment because of her sexual orientation. The other case involves a woman who claims she was pushed out of her work at a Georgia hospital because she is gay.

So far, 22 states in this country have banned this type of discrimination in the workplace, but Michigan is not one of them. LGBTQ advocates are hoping these cases can change federal law in the light of the ways courts are interpreting civil rights laws for gays, lesbians and transgender people of late. Only time will tell, but we will be following this developing story periodically on our blog.

Remember that you are protected against several forms of workplace discrimination in Michigan, and if you feel your employer has violated your rights, you might want to sit down with an attorney who handles employee rights cases. He or she can look into your case and may be able to prove that discrimination took place.

Source:, "Same-sex Workplace Discrimination Moves to Appeals Courts," Pete Williams, December 1, 2016

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