Since 2013, the federal government has treated LGBTQ-related workplace discrimination as sex discrimination. However, some fear those protections could end after the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments on Oct. 8 over the firings of gay men and a transgender woman.

The cases, which originated in New York, Georgia and Michigan, challenge protections for LGBTQ workers under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. If the federal protections end, the Associated Press reports millions of gay and transgender workers will be vulnerable across the nation.

State laws protect LGBTQ employees in Rhode Island

AP reports 28 states have no protections in place prohibiting discrimination against gay and transgender workers. However, Rhode Island put protections in place in 1995 for sexual orientation and expanded them to include gender identity and expression in 2001. State protections apply to both men and women, and sexual orientations, including:

  • Heterosexuality
  • Homosexuality
  • Bisexuality
  • Transgender
  • Gender Identity or Expression

What type of discrimination is illegal under Rhode Island laws?

State laws protect everyone’s rights not to be treated differently based on their sexual orientation, as well as based on a person’s “perceived” sexual orientation. The protections extend to:

  • Employment
  • Access to public places
  • Housing
  • Adoptions

Examples of illegal discrimination

Under state law, employers cannot discriminate using actions, such as the refusal to hire, terminating employment, harassment, unequal pay or imposing improper restrictions or conditions on someone based on their sexual orientation. While Rhode Island’s protections are some of the strongest in the nation, unfair and illegal treatment continues. If you have experienced discrimination in the workplace over your sexual orientation, an experienced and compassionate employment law attorney can help.