We live in a more open and accepting society than our parents and grandparents did. While coming out of the closet can still be a difficult process for many people to make, more and more people are feeling comfortable representing themselves as who they are, and embracing their differences. More and more people are able to admit to themselves and those around them who they are, with less fear of negative and unjust consequences. While there is still a long way to go before our society is a truly equal one, we have already come a long way towards that goal.
That being said, gay and lesbian employees still face a more difficult working experience than do their straight peers. Because the gay experience differs drastically depending on what part of the country you live in, gay employees face drastically different working environments across the United States. Places like New York and San Francisco can be very gay-friendly in their hiring and day-to-day function, while other cities may be much less fair.
A study was conducted in 2007 to gauge the experiences of gay and lesbian employees and how their job status corresponded to whether they were out of the closet or not. The study found (unsurprisingly) that employees who felt that their job would be negatively affected by their being open about their sexuality reported very poor job satisfaction and commitment to the job. Additionally, it can be difficult for gay and lesbian employees to feel open about their career strengths when they cannot feel open about who they are. This is a secondary problem that can also lead to poor satisfaction marks, a sort of tacit discrimination against LGBT employees.
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the various amendments to it protect employees from discriminatory practices based on race, sex, religion, nationality, age, and sexuality. But, like all laws, people frequently break them. It’s important to be able to recognize discrimination. If you are made, either verbally or implicitly, to feel that your sexuality is something that could affect your chances for career success, or your opportunities at the company, you are being discriminated against. It is your right and responsibility to seek fair working conditions and to keep employers from getting away with discriminatory policies. A qualified employment attorney can help you receive financial compensation.