Toni Jaramilla, A Professional Law Corporation - Los Angeles Employment Attorney Toni Jaramilla, A Professional Law Corporation - Los Angeles Employment Attorney
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How can employers make coming out at work easier for workers?

As Pride Month comes to a close, many companies are reflecting on the status of LGBTQ discrimination throughout the United States. While many workplaces have improved for members of the LGBTQ community, there is still quite a bit of work that needs to be done.

A recent study by the employment website Glassdoor reveals that nearly 43 percent of LGBTQ workers have not fully come out at work. Many are afraid that they may lose their job or hurt their relationships with their bosses and coworkers if they reveal their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Employers have a duty to make sure that workers operate in a comfortable work environment devoid of discrimination. There are many subtle ways they can encourage these workers that they shouldn't have to fear being themselves.

Remind workers of state laws

Many employees don't keep up with the federal and state laws of LGBTQ discrimination regardless if they've been guilty of it or not. While the Senate has not passed the Equality Act (which would provide LGBTQ workers protection from discrimination nationwide) yet, California already prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. There should be no harassment regardless if the Equality Act passes or not.

Employers should make an effort to inform their employees that these state laws are in place. They can send out an email containing the current laws or any updates to it, have a poster or sheet of paper in an accessible area with information that anyone can see or have an LGBTQ awareness training session. If the employer is struggling to think of the right times to address these laws, they could consider doing it during Pride Month, include it in the training session for new workers or through a company-wide email shortly after a report of work discrimination.

Acting appropriately

Choosing to come out at work is no easy task regardless of how far we've advanced in recent years. Many employers should expect getting workers from the LGBTQ community these days, so they shouldn't try to act so shocked when an employee chooses to come out. It might come off as a surprise to some, but they shouldn't try to treat the employee any differently than they did before. The transition can come more naturally as long as the employer acts like nothing has changed between them and the worker.

They should also refrain from using non-inclusive language regardless if the worker has come out or not. If a worker has not come out yet, then that might delay their decision to do so even further. If they have, then it looks even worse regardless if it was intended as a joke or not.

LGBTQ workers in California shouldn't face excessive grief from their employers or coworkers after coming out. They should know what rights they have if they experience employment discrimination.

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