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Top 5 LGBT Discrimination Issues for Small Business Employers

By Christopher Coble, Esq. | Last updated on

Chances are, you already have lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, or transgender employees. And whether you're aware of that or not, you should at least be aware of the federal and state laws prohibiting employment discrimination based on someone's gender or sexual orientation.

But knowing the law and adhering to it can be two different things, and having the right anti-discrimination policies in place is just the start. Here are five things you need to know about LGBT discrimination in the workplace:

1. How LGBT-Friendly Is Your Workplace?

Your small business should start with an LGBT-inclusive anti-discrimination policy as a bare minimum -- including "sexual orientation" and "gender identity" in your anti-discrimination policy is a must, and you may consider training staff to be LGBT literate as well.

2. EEOC: Sexual Orientation Discrimination Is Already Illegal

Federal law prohibits making employment decisions based on sex, and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has ruled that this applies to sexual orientation as well; meaning gay, lesbian, and bisexual workers are already covered by federal anti-discrimination laws.

3. Transgender Workers Now a Protected Class, EEOC Rules

The same goes for transgender employees -- the EEOC (and the Supreme Court) have ruled that sex stereotyping, including stereotypes based on gender norms, are prohibited by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

4. Obama Bars Anti-Gay Discrimination by Federal Contractors

Based on these rulings, President Barack Obama prohibited discriminating against gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender employees -- for both the federal government and federal contractors. So if you're doing business with the government, you'd better treat your LGBT employees right.

5. 5 Tips to Avoid an LGBT Employment Discrimination Lawsuit

Again, it starts with a clear and up-to-date anti-discrimination policy, and you can help by applying the policy consistently and offering additional training to all employees, especially managers. And make sure any complaints are addressed promptly and fairly.

If you have more questions about LGBT discrimination laws, or about setting up a business-wide anti-discrimination policy, you can contact an experienced employment attorney today.

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