Chicago Sexual Orientation Discrimination Attorney

Gay and Lesbian Rights in General

Gay rights, lesbian rights, and the rights of bisexuals have become the next major battleground in civil rights legislation. Unfortunately, the federal legislative progress is slow and there is no federal law protecting LGBT in the workplace. However, many states, including Illinois, have laws that protect gay rights, and give them similar protections as women and minorities.

Sexual Orientation Discrimination in Illinois

Illinois’ sexual orientation anti-discrimination law went into effect January 1, 2006, which means that any acts of sexual orientation discrimination that took place prior to 2006 will not violate that law. However, any acts of sexual orientation discrimination that occurred after 2006 may be in violation of the Illinois Human Rights Act. Sexual orientation claims must be filed with the Illinois Department of Human Rights (IDHR) and are pursued like other discrimination charges at the IDHR. This law not only includes gay rights, lesbian rights, and the rights of bisexuals and transgendered individuals, but it also prohibits reverse discrimination, or discrimination against heterosexuals.

Even though the law protects gay rights and prohibits sexual orientation discrimination, there are exceptions. By way of example, a religious organization may be permitted to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation in such circumstances.

In Cook County in Illinois, including the cities of Chicago and Evanston, there are ordinances against sexual orientation discrimination. Because so few ordinances protect the gay rights movement, adding sexual orientation discrimination to the Illinois Human Rights Act in 2005 was a landmark event not only for gay rights and lesbian rights, but also for the rights of heterosexuals facing reverse discrimination.

Gay Rights Under Federal Law

Federal law does not prohibit sexual orientation discrimination, and although gay and lesbian rights issues are gaining more attention, LGBT legislation is hotly contested. In April 2007, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) was introduced in Congress, but is not anticipated to pass in the near future. Since gay rights do get more support in the North Eastern states, it seems that more sexual orientation discrimination laws are beginning to appear across other parts of the country as well.

President Obama signed an Executive Order amending Executive Order 11246 which prohibits sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination for employees working with federal contractors.

What to Do

Even though gay and lesbian rights are getting more recognition, victims of sexual orientation discrimination are often finding it difficult to find legal resources. Any form of discrimination should be reported to the human resource department of one’s company, including any sexual orientation discrimination claims. Many companies do recognize gay rights and have policies against sexual orientation discrimination, even if there may not be a law prohibiting it. If you are in a jurisdiction like Illinois that has laws against sexual orientation discrimination, you should contact a Chicago Sexual Orientation Discrimination Attorney for assistance in filing your claim.

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