Is It Legal to Discriminate Against LGBTQ Workers in Ohio

Sep 25, 2020
By Peter Friedmann

No. The Supreme Court recently ruled that LGBTQ workers are protected against employment discrimination by federal and state law.

Pursuant to Title VII and R.C. 4112, private companies, temp agencies, public sector organizations, and labor unions cannot refuse to interview, hire, or promote individuals just because they are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. Employers are also prohibited from mistreating or allowing the mistreatment of LGBT workers based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. When LGBT employees report discrimination or retaliation, their employer cannot legally fire them for doing so.

A Recent Endorsement of Employment Protections for LGBT Workers

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 outlawed discrimination against workers on the basis of sex. Specifically, the law states

It shall be an unlawful employment practice for an employer

  • to fail or refuse to hire or to discharge any individual, or otherwise to discriminate against any individual with respect to his compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of such individual’s race, color, religion, sex, or national origin; or
  • to limit, segregate, or classify his employees or applicants for employment in any way which would deprive or tend to deprive any individual of employment opportunities or otherwise adversely affect his status as an employee, because of such individual’s race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.

Section 4112.02 of the Ohio Revised Code echoes this statutory language. For decades, however, employers relied on the absence of terms such as “sexual orientation,” “gender identity,” “lesbian,” and “gay” to argue in court that Title VII and similar state statutes did not protect LGBT individuals.  For quite some time, courts in Ohio and across the nation found that Title VII’s protections did not apply to lesbian, gay and transgendered individuals.  This recently changed in 2020, when the Supreme Court of the United States decided a group of cases that stand for the premise that Title VII does protect these individuals from discrimination in the employment context.

Most courts sided with employers, though a few workers who sued on the grounds of illegal discrimination based on gender stereotyping won notable victories prior to the Supreme Court’s recent decisions.

The legal landscape changed on June 15, 2020, when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in case titled Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia that “it is impossible to discriminate against a person for being homosexual or transgender without discriminating against that individual based on sex.”

The determination that the Title VII prohibition of sex discrimination also prohibits discrimination against LGBT individuals makes it possible for all people in Ohio to try to hold an employer accountable for sexual orientation or gender identity discrimination. Such cases may be tough to win, but courts can no longer dismiss claims brought under Title VII because the federal law lacks certain terms that were not commonly used more than 50 years ago.  The attorneys at The Friedmann Firm are committed to fighting for individuals who have been discriminated against based on being gay, lesbian and transgendered and individuals who have been discriminated against because they do not conform with gender stereotypes or gender norms.

At The Friedmann Firm, our employee rights attorneys welcome opportunities to advise and represent victims of LGBTQ discrimination. Based in Columbus, we are available to help workers all across Ohio. You can schedule a free and confidential consultation online or by calling 614.610.9755.