Sex & Sexual Orientation Discrimination

It is illegal to discriminate against someone on the basis of gender or sex. For example, your boss may not encourage male employees to speak out at meetings and ask you as a woman to refill his coffee, despite you holding the same position as the male employees. Many people believe that sex discrimination only refers to males discriminating against females. However, sex discrimination includes any employee discriminating against you on the basis of sex, including females discriminating against males, males discriminating against males and females discriminating against females.

What is sex or gender discrimination in the workplace?

  • Your boss refers to you by derogatory or offensive names based on your sex
  • Your employer disciplines male employees for taking personal calls from their children but allow female employees to take such calls without repercussion
  • Your coworkers mimic or taunt you because the way you talk, or act is not “womanly” or “manly” enough, depending on how they believe someone of your gender should act
  • Your boss meets your male counterparts out for drinks after work to discuss business but refuses to invite females
  • Your employer only promotes males to positions of power within the company

Does Iowa protect against Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Discrimination?

Also, under Iowa law, employers may not discriminate against employees on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. Not all states make it illegal to discriminate against employees on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, nor does the federal government.

Examples of discrimination or harassment based on sexual orientation or gender identity may include:

  • Your employer uses or allows your coworkers to use offensive terms that refer to being gay, lesbian or bisexual
  • Your employer learns of your sexual orientation and fires you
  • An employer refuses to hire you because you do not “fit the image” they want to portray, even though you are qualified for the job
  • You are mimicked, teased and ridiculed about your partner

Employees and coworkers can also retaliate against you based on your sex, sexual orientation or gender identity. Please refer to Retaliation for more information.

We can help.

All information on our website is meant to be generally informative. To find out whether you may have a case, you should consult an employment or discrimination attorney of your choice.