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Greater protections may be ahead for LGBT workers

Workers in Florida and throughout the country may soon have greaterprotection for workplace discrimination on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation. Some state and local laws already offer protection, while federal executive orders prohibit discrimination against people who work for the federal government or for government contractors. Some large businesses have also offered such protections, but many smaller ones do not.

However, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission interprets Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 as applying to sexual orientation and gender identity. Furthermore, the EEOC has announced its intention to more aggressively pursue protection of these rights. While the EEOC's interpretations of law are not binding on judges, courts often follow the agency's lead.

In 2011, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit ruled in favor of a transgender employee who was fired after telling a supervisor about her plans to transition. However, while discrimination on the basis of gender identity and stereotypes appears to be clearly prohibited, the rules around discrimination due to sexual orientation appear to be less clear. Rulings on two federal lawsuits that are in progress may clarify those rules.

People who feel they are facing workplace discrimination by their Boca Raton employer because of their gender identity or sexual orientation might want to speak to an employment law attorney. While it may sometimes be best to begin by speaking with a supervisor about discrimination at work, since these laws are somewhat in flux, people may want to begin by making sure they understand where they stand legally.

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