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Claims of workplace discrimination due to sexual orientation

Employee rights can be violated in a myriad of ways for workers in Michigan. While many forms of harassment and discrimination are well-known and blatantly against the law, there are others that are only recently being legislated against with accompanying legal filings to protect and compensate those whose rights have been violated. Discrimination against workers because of their sexual orientation is now sparking lawsuits as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has argued that federal law against sexual discrimination also protects workers based on their sexual orientation.

According to the EEOC, a person who is discriminated against based on sexual orientation will have the case fall under legislation against sex discrimination. For those who believe they have been subjected to discrimination for sexual orientation, the EEOC recommends methods by which these workers can prove their case. Having direct evidence is one way. If an employer or supervisor makes offensive comments regarding sexual orientation, that can be evidence that there is discrimination occurring. Another form of evidence is openly stating that an issue such as gay marriage is a "sin" and blatantly referring to the alleged victim. If there was a dismissal or demotion after these comments, this can be used to forge a case.

Being harassed with comments about gender and orientation can also fit into gender-based harassment. Being sent pornographic material, receiving inappropriate sexually-related gifts, getting literature suggesting therapy, or being the target of practical jokes that would not be perpetrated on heterosexual coworkers can all be considered harassment. Also, being excluded from certain work-related events or subjected to disfavor from certain assignments are indications of discrimination. Finally, a failure to promote or hire a qualified person when a heterosexual person is receiving the job or the advancement could be viewed as discrimination.

When a worker believes that workplace discrimination is occurring in their workplace, it is imperative to understand employee rights under the law. Speaking to a lawyer who is experienced in helping those who have been subjected to this level of harassment and mistreatment can help in pursuing a case against the employer.

Source: Huffington Post, "Sexual Orientation Discrimination Is Now Illegal Under Federal Law: Here's How To Prove It," Donna Ballman, March 3, 2016

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