Sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination in federal jobs

The federal government has issued a written guide for federal LGBT employees about their rights in case of discrimination.

The federal government has issued a revised resource guide for federal employees concerned about their legal rights in cases of illegal discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in the federal workplace. The June 2015 publication describes the legal protections available for federal civilian employees.

The resource guide was jointly published by four federal agencies with responsibilities vis-à-vis legal protections against unlawful discrimination or harassment based on protected classes in the context of the federal workplace: the U.S. Office of Personnel Management or OPM, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or EEOC, the Office of Special Counsel or OSC, and the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board or MSPB.

According to the guide, these protections come from various sources:

  • Executive Order 11478 forbids discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity against employees of the executive branch.
  • Federal civil rights law, specifically Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits sex discrimination, has been interpreted by the EEOC to include discrimination and harassment based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
  • Civil service laws that protect workers from negative employment actions in response to worker behavior unrelated to the job like actions related to sexual orientation or gender identity.
  • Individual agency protections may exist.
  • Some federal workers may have grievance procedures through their membership in unions.

The guide describes the complex interplay among the various legal remedies for federal employees subject to illegal discrimination based on LGBT status, which underscores the importance of such an employee seeking early, sound legal advice from an employment attorney who has experience representing federal workers in such matters.

Some of the reasons legal counsel is important:

  • Deadlines are likely to apply, some shorter than might be expected, and missing them may preclude certain legal remedies.
  • Multiple remedies may be available and a knowledgeable lawyer can explain the pros and cons of each in order for the federal worker to make an informed decision. For example, the kind of damages or relief may vary, appeal or review rights may vary, or choosing one may preclude choosing another later.
  • Legal remedies may include notice requirements.
  • Some remedies may require that others first be tried.
  • The worker's attorney can monitor and contribute to any federal investigation of the matter.
  • And others.

The guide also contains links to other important information as well as a helpful chart to assist the reader in understanding the variety of legal remedies potentially available, but getting individual legal advice is extremely important.

With offices in Dallas, Atlanta and Washington, D.C., the employment lawyers of The Devadoss Law Firm, P.L.L.C., represent exclusively federal workers in discrimination and other matters across the country.

Keywords: federal employee, guide, LGBT, discrimination, sexual orientation, gender identity