Helping You Move In The Right Direction

As concern grows over the COVID-19 pandemic… Read More

“Married on Sunday, fired on Monday.”

That pithy little mantra might not mean much, if anything, to many workers, but is has certainly resonated with one select workplace demographic in California and nationally.

That is the country’s large and diverse gay, lesbian and transgender community. Some members of that group can unfortunately relate to that above aphorism in an immediately personal way.

Employees have been shielded against on-the-job discrimination for decades by the 1964 Civil Rights Act and its list of enumerated Title VII protected categories. Many readers can likely tick off most or all of those classifications. They range from race, national origin and religion to disability, pregnancy and additional factors.

Including sex. Many people believe that the sex category has logically and always included safeguards for the LGBTQ community, but that has never been true.

Until two weeks ago when, on June 15, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch penned a 6-3 Court opinion adding to the umbrella of protections accorded under the sex category. Gorsuch stressed in the majority ruling that, “It is impossible to discriminate against a person for being homosexual or transgender without discriminating … based on sex.”

An in-depth National Public Radio piece on the ruling called it “remarkable” and noted this likely surprising truth for many readers: Nearly half of all American states have historically provided no protections at all for LGBTQ workers.

That will now change. Questions concerning the ruling’s scope and application can be directed to a proven employment law attorney.

Some employees in California and elsewhere – often managerial or other upper-level workers – have lengthy and tailored employment agreements that spell out in detail key elements of their relationship with an employer. Central provisions within such contracts often set forth the terms and conditions that will be legally guiding in the instance of job termination.

Such is not routinely the case for the bulk of America’s workforce. In fact, most employees across the country engage in work pursuant to a so-called “at-will” relationship with management. What that means is that an employer can essentially release a worker at any time and for any reason, without legal repercussions.

Many people are surprised to hear that, and regard an at-will contractual relationship as conferring an absolute one-sided power on an employer.

That might ostensibly seem to be the case, but it is in fact not true. Termination linked with an at-will relationship comes with one key caveat.

And that is this: Job termination must not be for an illegal reason.

Candidly, an employer’s motivation is not always easy to perceive. Some company bosses couch terminations in a pretextual way. For example, they might cite subpar performance, when the real reason for a termination was grounded in aversion to something like a worker’s race, religion or sexual orientation.

Questions or concerns regarding a job termination should be directed to a proven employment law attorney. A lengthy list of federal and state protections exists to safeguard workers from discriminatory workplace behavior. A number of categories are “protected” under relevant laws, meaning that a worker cannot be terminated because he or she fits within one or more of those classifications. In addition to the above-cited classifications, protected categories include sex, ethnic origin, disability, pregnancy and medical conditions.

Experienced legal counsel can provide further information.