Best Ohio Lawyer For Employment Discrimination Against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer/Questioning Employees: As an LBTQ person living in Cuyahoga County can I be discriminated against based on my sexual orientation and/or gender identity? Can an employer refuse to hire me based on my sexual orientation and/or gender identity? Can I sue an employer for discriminating against me because I’m transgendered?
As any new parent can tell you, it is easy to get greedy with a new baby. The baby rolls over, we, the parents, want the baby to sit up. The baby sits up, we are pushing the baby to crawl. The baby utters a first word, we want the second. The baby table walks; the baby takes a first step, we want more. This is where the term “baby steps” comes from. Given the small incremental nature of the advancement, we often forget that baby steps still move us forward. Each baby step is a building block for the next step and the next step after that. And, pretty soon that baby is picking out where she wants to go to college. While we understand that the first baby steps may not be enough and that there is more progress to be had, that does not mean we cannot appreciate the progress of each small step forward. Progress is good. It is better that stagnation or worse yet falling backwards. The movement to protect LGBTQ+ employees and workers in every facet of their employment is our employment discrimination lawyer’s baby. While we relish each small advancement, we want more. Baby steps.
At The Spitz Law Firm, LLC, our employment lawyers work tirelessly to make sure that developments in employment law are studied and put into practice whenever possible. One such development was implemented in Cuyahoga County on September 25, 2018, when the Cuyahoga County council passed Title 15, which is a new step towards providing equal protection to the LBTQ community. Title 15 extends protections to individuals based on the already-protected classes of race/color, religion, gender/sex, national origin, age, disability discrimination, and military status, and adds sexual orientation and gender identity or expression to that list of protected classes. Title 15 defines “gender identity or expression” as “an individual’s actual or perceived gender-related identity, appearance, expression, mannerisms, or other gender-related characteristics, regardless of the individual’s designated sex at birth.”
By adding protections for people on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity or expression, Cuyahoga County joins 20 municipalities in Ohio with similar protections. These communities include Akron, Athens, Bexley, Bowling Green, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Cleveland Heights, Columbus, Coshocton, Dayton, East Cleveland, Lakewood, Kent, Newark, Olmsted Falls, Oxford, South Euclid, Toledo, Yellow Springs, and Youngstown. However, it is important to note that sexual orientation and gender identity or expression are only protected in a limited fashion under the newly implemented Title 15 are not yet fully protected under Ohio or federal law the same as other protected classes. (see I Was Fired Today Because Of My Sexual Orientation!; Can I Be Fired Because I’m Gay Or Lesbian?; Can My Church Refuse To Hire Gay Cooks?; Can My Employer Openly Harass Me Because I’m Gay?)
The rights now protected for LGBTQ individuals under the Title 15 include equal access to employment. This means that under Title 15, it is now unlawful for an employer in Cuyahoga County to; discharge without cause, refuse to hire, or otherwise discriminate against applicants and employees with respect to their terms and conditions of employment on the basis of the employee or applicant’s sexual orientation and gender identity or expression. If you believe that you have been discriminated against based upon your sexual orientation and gender identity or expression then you need an attorney experienced in LGBTQ employment rights, you need to call the right attorney to discuss the details of your case, and the process of filling a claim with the Cuyahoga County Commission on Human Rights.
Although it is an admirable first step, Title 15 does not go far enough in granting relief to victims of employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity or expression. The remedies available under Title 15 are more limited than the remedies available for other types of discrimination under State or federal law. If the Cuyahoga County Commission on Human Rights finds that an employer has discriminated against an individual on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity, the Commission can issue a cease and desist order, demanding that the employer immediately stop the harassment or discrimination. If the employer does not obey the cease and desist order, and continues to discriminate against, or harass employees based on the employee’s sexual orientation and gender identity or expression, the cease and desist order can be enforced through a lawsuit. Alternatively, if the Commission finds a violation of Title 15, the Commission may also order civil administrative penalties, in other words fine the employer, (1) up to $1,000 for a first offense in the five-year period before the charge; (2) up to $2,500 for a second offense in the five-year period before the charge; and (3) up to $5,000 for a third or subsequent offense in the five-year period before the charge. Obviously, this is much less than would be available in a civil lawsuit The Commission can also grant reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs to the person who was discriminated against if the Commission finds a violation of Title 15. Any party can appeal the Commission’s decision to the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas. In order to walk you through this complicated process, and to ensure your voice is heard you will need the top Ohio employment lawyers on your side, and you need to call the right attorney.
While Title 15 punishes the employer for discriminating against or harassing an LGBTQ individual it does little to compensate the victim of discrimination. In the future law makers should consider expanding available financial relief and remedies to LGBTQ victims of discrimination.
The enactment of Title 15 in Cuyahoga County should be applauded however, it is only one small step to solving a major problem in American society. According to a 2015 survey by the National Center for Transgender Equality, about 1-in-4 trans people asked said they’ve been denied a job, a promotion, or fired because of their gender identity. Title 15 is a start in attempting to curb discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity or expression. However, the remedies available under Title 15 are too limited to be truly effective in stopping sexual orientation and gender identity or expression discrimination. The fines imposed by the Commission should be much higher or should allow a jury to determine the actual damages, and there should be more options available to victims of discrimination at the state and federal level. Therefore, although it is a good first step the fact that Title 15 is so limited in its scope and remedies is simply unacceptable. This is why the employment lawyers at The Spitz Law Firm, LLC are working tirelessly to combat employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity or expression and fighting for expanded LGBTQ rights in the workplace.
The implementation of Title 15 in Cuyahoga county is reflective of a recent nationwide shift in the anti-discrimination policies. In fact, we have chronicled this shift in our blog over the past couple of years. (See Can I Be Denied A Promotion Because I Am Transgender?; Can My Employers Discriminate Against Me Because I Am LGBT?; Can I Be Fired For Gender Transition?; and Can My Employer Lock Me Out of The Restrooms/Bathrooms?). This shift is most prominent in recent legal decisions that have made clear that workplace discrimination against transgender, and other LGBTQ individuals is a form of discrimination based on sex and, is therefore unlawful under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
The bottom line is that sexual orientation and gender identity or expression and other LGBTQ+ discrimination cases are just beginning to be addressed in American society. In order to navigate this new area of employment law, you should have experienced employment lawyers on your side; one that can help guide you through these developing employment law areas.
An LGBTQ individual may also face what we refer to as “hybrid” discrimination, which is discrimination based sexual orientation and gender identity or expression in combination with another protected category, such as race/color, religion, gender/sex, national origin, age, disability discrimination, and military status. For example, a transgender African American may face both racist, and transphobic harassment, amounting to discrimination based on both their race, and gender identity. If you have been a victim of hybrid discrimination you may have a lot of options that is best to short out with an employment lawyer that understands these options and can help you navigate the minefield obstacle course that is the law for LGBTQ workers.
If you are searching “I need a lawyer because I have was wrongfully fired or terminated today;” or “I have been discriminated against because I am …” gay, a lesbian, bisexual, transgendered, queer; or even think that you might need an employment law lawyer that works with LGBTQ employees, then it would be best to call the right attorney to schedule a free and confidential consultation at (216) 291-4744. Your employment rights are constantly changing and the best way to find out if you can sue your boss, manager, supervisor or employer for discrimination, harassment, or wrongful termination is to call The Spitz Law Firm and talk to its attorneys, who are experienced and dedicated to protecting the rights of employees just like you.
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