At Schaefer Halleen, we take pride in advocating for clients who have been treated unjustly in the workplace. A long-time ally to the LGBTQ community, our firm is dedicated to providing the highest quality legal representation to help our LGBTQ clients triumph when affected by illegal conduct by corporate or government entities.
The employment law attorneys at Schaefer Halleen have helped numerous clients fight discrimination in the workplace. Whether you’re being targeted for your sexual orientation or gender identity, we will be fierce advocates for you. Our clients are sometimes unsure if their negative experiences at work constitute discrimination. We are always happy to hear your story and provide our professional guidance. You deserve to feel welcome in your workplace.
Our staff and attorneys have worked closely with OutFront MN to enhance a deeper understanding of the complexities and concerns faced by LGBTQ individuals in the workplace. Schaefer Halleen has also had the pleasure of working with and supporting Gender Justice, a non-profit that “addresses the causes and consequences of gender inequality, both locally and nationally.” When it comes to employment discrimination, Schaefer Halleen is the definitive resource for members of the LGBTQ community.
LGBTQ Workplace Discrimination
Pro Bono Legal Clinic for Transgender Employees
In a unique partnership with RECLAIM!, OutFront Minnesota, QUORUM, and Gender Justice, the Schaefer Halleen Trans Legal Clinic will be an ongoing (monthly) opportunity for members of the trans community to seek free consultations with discrimination attorneys. The clinic will begin with a brief presentation explaining your rights as a transgender employee, followed by private and confidential one-on-one consultations with an attorney on a first come, first served basis.
If you don’t have time to wait, you may complete an intake with a legal assistant and an attorney will contact you separately. There is no cost for the consultation provided at the clinic. Please join us on the 3rd Saturday of each month at RECLAIM! (771 Raymond Ave., St. Paul) from 12pm-3pm. This is a drop-in clinic, no appointment is necessary.
For questions, comments, or feedback, please contact email@example.com.
Client: Transgender College Professor
Problem: Denied tenure amidst many negative comments about accommodation requests and other subjective impressions revealing discomfort with client’s status as a transgender professor.
Approach: In letter protesting tenure denial decision, stressed client’s tremendous accomplishments as non-tenured professor, popularity with vast bulk of student population, and clear evidence of bias which infected decisions. Proposed robust transition package as professor no longer wanted to continue career in that environment.
Solution: After extensive and unproductive initial direct negotiations with outside counsel, college agreed to mediation and matter was resolved at mediation for severance approaching two years of compensation and other terms which allowed client to transition to other employment opportunities without tenure denial on record.
Client: Openly Gay Executive
Problem: Client faced imminent termination for baseless reasons after strong 20-year career.
Approach: Developed evidence that President/CEO of organization had made statements reflecting sexual orientation bias. Presented this evidence in detailed proposal letter, along with client’s well-established exceptional past reviews and pretextual reasons for potential termination, before termination decision had been communicated to client. The client had also received both homophobic comments and hate mail at the workplace, the evidence of which was also presented.
Solution: In direct negotiations with Senior in-House counsel, was able to secure severance package which provided well in excess of one year of transition compensation, accelerated vesting of past options, and favorable reference letter.
Client: Openly Gay Male at Advertising Agency
Problem: Manager in office party had made disparaging comments regarding Gay Pride celebration and had made frequent comments directly to client regarding his “effeminate” manner, among other disparaging statements. Client was denied training and advancement opportunities provided to others, and was ultimately terminated in RIF affecting only two other employees, after being passed over for promotions for four years.
Approach: When pre-litigation negotiations failed, prosecuted case with local advocacy organization, through extensive discovery (including depositions). Summary judgment denied and case was positioned for one-week trial.
Solution: Before pre-trial submissions were filed, were able to secure significant compensation, well over 10X what had been offered client pre-litigation.
We are a law firm who fights for employee rights. We are committed to eradicating employment discrimination in all forms, including sex, age, race, gender, sexual orientation, national origin, disability, and all of the covered protected classes. In our view, however, the trans community is the most marginalized and is subjected to the most overt discrimination of any other protected group. The legal system needs to listen and respond to this community. And we at Schaefer Halleen have the experience and desire to help the trans community be heard and access justice. Because trans employees are confronted with all sorts of expressed and implicit bias in the workplace, they need strong advocates knowledgeable about their rights.
With all the progress that the LGBTQ community has experienced in recent years, and with general awareness of sexual harassment on the rise, this is a critical time in our culture. And in the legal realm, courts are considering important cases that affect the LGBTQ community. Still, the trans community is often excluded or considered a lower priority. But employment discrimination persists. And the need is there.
What has Schaefer Halleen done to prepare for this work?
While we have represented trans clients in the past, we know we have a lot to learn to become trans competent. In preparation for launching the Trans Legal Clinic, we have reached out to leaders in the local trans community, we have sought training in trans competency and trans issues. We have held a listening session for the trans community to help us understand what work we need to do to create a safe environment for interaction with legal services, and to understand the legal needs of the local community. We hope to establish an ongoing listening and learning approach to serving the trans community. And we are committed to sharing our expertise and knowledge in advocating for trans employees in the area of employment discrimination.
FAQs About LGBTQ+ Workplace Discrimination
LGBTQ discrimination occurs when a member of the LGBTQ community experiences a hostile or unfair work environment. They may have been passed up for a promotion based on their LGBTQ status, or they may face outward hate and harassment from coworkers or supervisors. Discrimination may be so severe that an employee is actually terminated due to their LGBTQ status. All these types of discrimination are illegal.
Yes, you can file an LGBTQ discrimination claim with the EEOC. All private sector and public employees are protected by the EEOC; it enforces sections of the law that cover both types of employees. An employment discrimination attorney in Minneapolis can help you file a claim with the EEOC.
LGBTQ employees face more workplace harassment and discrimination than their straight, cisgender counterparts. They may be ostracized, belittled, and harassed based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. They may also be discriminated against by their employer. Employers are required to provide a safe workplace for all employees and must take claims of LGBTQ discrimination seriously.
No, the Minnesota Human Rights Act prohibits an employer from discriminating against an employee because they are transgender or the employer believes them to be transgender. In addition, a 2020 Supreme Court ruling states that all LGBT employees, including transgender employees, are federally protected from employment discrimination.
If you’re being discriminated at work because you’re a member of the LGBTQ+ community, you should contact a local workplace discrimination attorney to discuss your options. Your options are likely to include pursuing a legal claim in court, filing a complaint with a government enforcement agency such as the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission and the Minnesota Department of Human Rights, and/or demanding corrective action from your current or former employer.
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