Workplace Inclusion

Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

You have the responsibility to ensure equal opportunity for workers.

Discrimination based on gender identity is a form of sex discrimination. The law forbids sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination when it comes to any aspect of employment. In general, this means that you can’t:

  • fire,
  • reject for a job or promotion,
  • give lesser assignments to,
  • force to take leave, or
  • otherwise negatively alter the terms and conditions of employment for an individual because of their
  • gender identity,
  • transgender status or medical information related to their
    • gender identity,
    • sexual orientation, or
    • marriage or association with a same-sex partner.


This includes the right to work in an environment free of unlawful harassment and other forms of discrimination. For example, you can’t refuse to promote employees because of their sexual orientation or fire an employee because they have planned or made a gender transition. These protections apply despite any contrary state or local laws. It is also unlawful for workers to be harassed because of a gender transition, which includes management and co-workers intentionally and persistently failing to use their preferred name and gender pronoun that the individual has shared with them.


Employment discrimination may also occur when an employer’s seemingly fair policies or practices have a significant negative impact on people because of their gender identity without demonstrating the policies or practices are job-related and consistent with business necessity. And discrimination can also occur when the person who discriminates shares a protected characteristic with the applicant or employee like gender identity.

We’re here to help.

We are committed to helping you understand your responsibilities as an employer. Many questions about your responsibilities may be answered by using the following elaws (Employment Laws Assistance for Workers and Small Businesses) Advisor:

For additional assistance, please contact:

Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP): 1-800-397-6251 or the OFCCP Help Desk

U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC): 1-800-669-4000 or

Women workers holding rainbow LGBTQ flag
Need more information?

The elaws (Employment Laws Assistance for Workers and Small Businesses) Advisors are a set of online tools developed by the U.S. Department of Labor to help employees and employers understand their rights and responsibilities under federal employment laws.