Although Congress has debated the idea, no federal law specifically prohibits job discrimination based on an employee or applicant's sexual orientation.

Employees have tried to claim sexual-orientation discrimination under a variety of federal employment laws, including the Americans with Disabilities Act, Equal Pay Act, and Title VII. Federal courts, however, have denied such claims.

No claim under Title VII

There's been an increase in workers filing Title VII cases alleging harassment based on sexual orientation. This is due, in part, to a 1998 Supreme Court ruling that said an employer may be held liable for same-sex sexual harassment under Title VII. (Oncale v. Sundowner Offshore Services, 532 U.S. 75)

Under Oncale, employees have the legal right to sue for sexual harassment even when they and their alleged harassers are the same gender. But to succeed in such cases, employees must show that they were ha...(register to read more)

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