LGBTQ+ Discrimination in the Workplace

Federal employees who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and intersex are protected from discrimination and harassment based on these protected classes under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This anti-discrimination law ensures that federal employees can perform their jobs free from discrimination based on race, color, national origin, religion, and sex.

In June 2020, the Supreme Court made it clear in Bostock v. Clayton County that the prohibition on sex discrimination under Title VII includes sexual orientation and gender identity, with the Supreme Court stating, “an employer who fires an individual merely for being gay or transgender defies the law.”  

EEOC Decisions Protecting Federal Employees

The EEOC has issued several favorable decisions with respect to the rights of transgender and LGBTQ+ federal employees in the federal government workplace, including: 

  • Macy v. Dep’t of Justice, EEOC Appeal No. 0120120821 (Apr. 12, 2012), where the EEOC held that discrimination based on transgender status is sex discrimination in violation of Title VII, settling a long-standing dispute that left members of the LGBT community without Title VII protections. 
  • Lusardi v. Dep’t of the Army, EEOC Appeal No. 0120133395 (Mar. 27, 2015), where the EEOC held that a federal employee’s access to and/or opportunity to enjoy the compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of their employment cannot be conditioned on undergoing or providing proof of surgery or other medical procedure. The EEOC held that intentional reference to a transgender employee by pronouns not associated with the gender they identify with could constitute hostile work environment harassment and that denying an employee equal access to bathroom facilities corresponding to the employee’s gender identity constitutes a harm or loss with respect to the terms and conditions of the employee’s employment on the basis of sex. 
  • Baldwin v. Foxx, EEOC Appeal No. 0120133080 (July 15, 2015), where the EEOC decided that “allegations of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation necessarily state a claim of discrimination on the basis of sex.” 
  • Darin B. v. OPM, EEOC Appeal No. 0120161068 (Mar. 6, 2017), where the EEOC held that a transgender federal employee stated a viable EEO claim by alleging that the agency administering the insurance benefits of the Federal Employee Health Benefits program violated Title VII by allowing an insurance carrier to deny pre-authorization for health insurance benefits for gender reassignment surgery whereas pre-authorization was granted for other types of surgeries. 

LGBTQ+ Discrimination Lawyers You Can Trust

If you are a federal employee and wish to file an EEO complaint based on LGBTQ discrimination, an experienced lawyer at the Federal Practice Group can help. We fight to protect what the EEOC has made into law – that LGBTQ federal employees can enforce their rights through the EEO complaint process like members of other protected classes.  

We will work with you to ensure you see a favorable outcome to your sex discrimination in the workplace claim. Contact an LGBTQ+ Discrimination lawyer from the Federal Practice Group today! 

What Makes Us Different

From EEO complaints to adverse actions, our experienced federal employment attorneys ensure your entitlement to due process and legal representation every step of the way.

Represent government employees at all federal agencies, nationwide and overseas

Highly-skilled MSPB appeals attorneys with a proven track record

Notable success in EEO complaints and appeals

Frequently Asked Questions

Federal employees are protected from discrimination based on sex, gender, color, race, national origin, religion, age, and disability, and have the right to file an EEO complaint against their agency should they face discrimination. Federal employees also have the right to due process before being subjected to an adverse action and have an option to appeal an adverse action to the MSPB. Federal employees are also protected from whistleblower retaliation under the law.   

Yes, federal employees can sue for discrimination, but first you must exhaust administrative remedies, which includes filing a formal complaint with your agency and letting at least 180 days pass. In many instances, federal employees elect to pursue their EEO complaints through the EEOC’s hearing process instead of filing a civil action. 

Federal employees must initiate contact with an EEO Counselor within 45 days of any act of discrimination to indicate intent to file an informal EEO complaint. If the EEO complaint is still unresolved after the informal complaint stage, you will be issued a Notice of Right to File a formal complaint, which will permit you 15 days to do so.  

Federal employees do not have the right to sue for wrongful termination the way private sector employees do, but most federal employees have the right to appeal a removal to the MSPB, which will adjudicate whether the Agency can sustain any charges raised against you and determine whether the agency’s penalty against you was reasonable.

Yes, most federal employees can file a complaint against their agency with the U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) if they are facing whistleblower retaliation. If OSC does not accept your complaint for investigation and prosecution, OSC will issue you an Individual Right of Action (IRA) notice giving you the right to pursue corrective action at the MSPB. Federal employees do not have the right to sue in court under the Whistleblower Protection Act.

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