by Steve Jones
Q I have an employee who is outwardly gay. He is a great employee and says he loves working at my business. However, he recently mentioned that he doesn’t like when a specific coworker uses antigay slurs. The slurs are not directed toward the gay employee. Instead, the slurs are generic comments such as “That’s so gay.” Are the comments a form of harassment under the law?
A It depends. Sexual orientation―specifically, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) status―is not a federally protected category. Therefore, we must look to state law for guidance. Currently, 21 states and the District of Columbia have laws that prohibit sexual orientation discrimination in employment. Twenty-nine states do not prohibit sexual orientation discrimination.