Nowadays, members of the LGBT community are more comfortable “coming out” to their loved ones and even to their work colleagues. There are currently 325 million people in the United States, with an estimated 4% of them members of the LGBT community. This means that 13 million Americans identify as being gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender.
Given this huge number, there needs to be equality for all individuals in all aspects of life, including the workplace. However, LGBT workplace discrimination is still quite common across the country. Many workers feel that they are getting differential treatment because they are not heterosexual.
One area in which there is still some discrepancy is when it comes to taking time off to care for family members. Qualifying workers get 12 weeks of unpaid leave. What do LGBT employees get?
Does FMLA Cover Domestic Partners?
Under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), all public employers and private employers with at least 50 employees are required to give qualified employees up to 12 weeks of unpaid time off for family or medical reasons. Qualified employees include those who have worked for at least the last 12 months and have worked for at least 1,250 hours during that time period.
FMLA allows LGBT employees to take time off to care for their children. There does not need to be a biological or legal relationship. However, even though same-sex marriage is now legal in all 50 states, it is not recognized under federal law. Therefore, employers are not obligated to allow LGBT workers to take time off to care for a same-sex partner or spouse.
Another issue is that FMLA covers employees who have to take time off to deal with a “serious medical issue.” Gender transition or identity issues are typically not covered since they are considered not medically necessary.
How Employers can Help
Under the rules of the FMLA, the LGBT community may feel excluded. They may feel as though they are entitled to the same rights as their heterosexual co-workers, yet they are not treated the same because they do not have traditional relationships. There are ways in which employers can bridge this gap. For example, they can make sure to include same-sex partners and children, regardless of biological status, under their FMLA leave policies. They can also include gender transition and related procedures and disorders under qualifying reasons for medical leave.
Contact a New York Sexual Orientation Discrimination Lawyer
While New York is progressive in that it is friendly toward LGBTQ individuals, not all companies are the same. Some have traditional views on marriage and may not want to treat their LGBT employees with the respect they deserve.
If you have faced discrimination in the workplace because of your sexual preference, the experienced New York sexual orientation discrimination lawyers at Ricotta & Marks, P.C. can help. We can file a claim against your employer and make sure your rights are protected. Call (347) 464-8694 to schedule a free consultation.