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If you were fired for being gay, understand your legal rights

With the legalization of same-sex marriage, many Americans assumed that discrimination against individuals on the basis of sexual orientation was a thing of the past. However, this could not be further from the truth. In fact, if you're a member of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community, you know that you're always at risk of facing discrimination on the street, at work, at church and even at home.

When it comes to work-related sexual orientation discrimination, this can have the most negative consequences for the victim because it can interrupt their ability to earn an income and support themselves and family. Therefore, you need to know your rights.

What is sexual orientation discrimination?

Harassment, name-calling, wrongful termination, lost opportunities, failure to hire and other mistreatment on the basis of sexual orientation are discrimination. The question is: Can your employer get away with it based on its workplace policies and state and federal law?

What federal laws protect me?

No federal laws protect you from private sector sexual orientation discrimination. However, if you work for a federal agency, you are protected.

Do workplace policies protect me? Your workplace may have in place a policy to protect workers from sexual orientation discrimination. Learn about how this policy applies to you.

How about state and local laws? Approximately half of U.S. states, including California, have laws that protect workers from sexual orientation discrimination at work. If you don't live in California, investigate what kinds of protections your state provides. If your state doesn't offer protection, check your local county and city laws to see if any protections exist.

Don't just accept workplace sexual orientation discrimination. Discuss your situation with an employment law attorney to explore your legal rights and options.

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