Worker Claims She Suffered Sexual Orientation Harassment For Nearly Ten Years
For over twenty years, our LGBTQ employee rights lawyers in Marion County, Florida have fought for the rights of employment discrimination victims. Having represented employment discrimination victims for decades, our LGBTQ employee rights attorneys in Ocala, Florida know that many employees have endured years of sexual orientation harassment while working for the same employer. In this article, our Citrus County, Florida employment attorneys explain how the decision in Schlegel v. Finney County, Kansas, Board of Commissioners, 2023 WL 2428900 (D. Kan. March 9, 2023) demonstrates that employees who have been subjected to sexual orientation harassment for years while employed by the same employer have a remedy under federal employment discrimination law for the years of abusive behavior.
LBGTQ Employee Rights
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII) prohibits employers from discriminating against employees on the basis of sex. In Bostock v. Clayton County, 140 S.Ct. 1731 (2020), the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or transgender status is a form of unlawful discrimination on the basis of sex in violation of Title VII. In holding that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or transgender status violates Title VII, the Bostock Court overruled decades of federal court decisions ruling that Title VII provides no protection from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or transgender status.
In construing Title VII, courts have uniformly held that sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination forbidden by Title VII. Because the Bostock Court ruled that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or transgender status is a form of sex discrimination prohibited by Title VII, the BostockCourt’s ruling also means that harassment on the basis of sexual orientation or transgender status is a form of sex discrimination forbidden by Title VII. To violate Title VII, harassment on the basis of sexual orientation or transgender status must be sufficiently severe or pervasive to alter the conditions of the victim’s employment and create a hostile working environment.
LBGTQ Discrimination Lawsuit
In Schlegel, a woman named Schlegel brought an employment discrimination lawsuit against her former employer, Finney County, Kansas, Board of Commissioners (the County), pursuant to Title VII. Schlegel claims that she was subjected to hostile work environment harassment because of her sexual orientation in violation of Title VII.
Schlegel is a female who identifies her sexual orientation as a lesbian. In 2011, Schlegel began her employment with the County as a detention officer at a juvenile detention center. Schlegel contends that she endured sexual orientation discrimination for years during her tenure with the County. For example, on one instance, Schlegel heard the word “dyke” used in reference to her. Although she did not file a formal complaint of discrimination after this incident, Schlegel verbally complained to her immediate supervisor about the incident. Schlegel further alleges that her co-workers referred to lesbians as “dykes” and made discriminatory comments about lesbians on at least a monthly basis. The first occasion when discriminatory comments were made about lesbians, according to Schlegel, was in 2012.
Additionally, early in her employment, Schlegel worked with a male supervisor who allegedly told Schlegel directly that he did not like gay people. While Schlegel did not file a formal complaint of discrimination about the incident, she verbally complained to her supervisors about it. During this same time, whenever Schlegel would sign up for an overtime shift, her name would somehow be removed, resulting in her inability to work overtime shifts. Moreover, when she was transferred to the Emergency Medical Department, Schlegel was forced to work in the pods more frequently than other detention officers. Schlegel heard from her co-workers that they were supposed to run her off by working her in the pods.
On-Going Sexual Orientation Harassment
The County filed a motion with the trial court seeking dismissal of Schlegel’s sexual orientation discrimination claim. In seeking dismissal, the County argued that the alleged sexual orientation that Schlegel allegedly experienced was not sufficiently severe or pervasive to alter the conditions of her employment and create a hostile working environment. The trial court denied the County’s motion for dismissal and ruled that Schlegel had presented sufficient evidence to establish that she was subjected to hostile work environment harassment because of her sexual orientation in violation of Title VII.
In denying the County’s motion for dismissal, the trial court focused on the duration of the alleged discriminatory conduct as evidence of its pervasiveness. The trial court pointed out that Schlegel “alleges that the various discriminatory incidents were happening repeatedly, and that derogatory comments about lesbians were made at least monthly.” “The first incident” of discriminatory comments about lesbians, the trial court noted, “occurred in 2012.” “This means,” the trial court explained, that Schlegel “suffered harassment at the County for nearly ten years.” In light of this evidence, the trial court concluded, a reasonable jury could find that the alleged sexual orientation harassment Schlegel endured was sufficiently pervasive to alter the conditions of her employment and create a hostile working environment.
Free Consultation For LBGTQ Employees
One of the most important decisions LBGTQ employees must make is which employment discrimination lawyer to consult with regarding their LBGTQ employee rights. As part of our dedication to helping employment discrimination victims, an experienced LBGTQ employee rights attorney will speak with you personally and you will receive the individualized attention your case deserves. We offer free confidential case evaluations for employees, and you will not have to pay to speak with our LBGTQ employee rights attorneys regarding your rights. We are available for consultation at your convenience, including scheduling telephone consultations for evenings and weekends.
Marion County, FL Discrimination Lawyers
Based in Ocala, Florida, and representing workers throughout Florida, our LBGTQ employee rights attorneys in Marion County, Florida have dedicated their practice to fighting for the rights of employment discrimination victims. If you have been discriminated against on the basis of sexual orientation or have questions about your LBGTQ employee rights under federal employment discrimination law, please contact our office for a free consultation with our LBGTQ employee rights lawyers in Marion County, Florida. Our employee rights law firm takes employment discrimination cases on a contingency fee basis. This means that there are no attorney’s fees incurred unless there is a recovery and our attorney’s fees come solely from the monetary award that you recover.