Maloney O'Laughlin PLLC fights for employees throughout Washington, from Seattle to Spokane.

Maloney O'Laughlin PLLC fights for employees throughout Washington, from Seattle to Spokane.

Ways to identify sexual orientation discrimination

On Behalf of | Oct 3, 2022 | Sex And Gender Discrimination

Discrimination based on race, sex, gender and religion is well known to be illegal in the workplace. However, discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation is less well known and, as a result, may be more challenging to recognize. For instance, some employers may target gay, lesbian or bisexual people, as well as those who are transgender or non-binary.

Here are a few ways to identify potential sexual orientation discrimination in Washington state workplaces.

Different treatment after coming out

There are many reasons why an employer may treat a worker differently than they once did. Perhaps a subordinate is not doing as good of a job at their duties, or maybe the supervisor is going through a difficult time themselves, causing them to be less likely to show empathy and patience. However, if an employer experiences vastly different treatment after coming out as LGBTQ+, it could be a sign of discrimination.


There are many different ways that employers may attempt to exclude those who are LGBTQ+. For instance, a staff party invitation might insist on employees bringing a spouse or long-term partner if they are in a relationship. If an employee fails to bring a partner because they are uncomfortable, or if they do bring their same-sex partner, and either scenario leads to persistent jokes, comments and differential treatment, this could fall under the scope of sexual orientation discrimination.

Failing to promote gay, lesbian and transgender employees to more visible positions may also indicate that the employer is being exclusionary.

Being aware of the signs of sexual orientation discrimination enables potential victims to seek the support they need.