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Courts may clarify discrimination laws for employers

Despite public attitudes toward employment protection for LGBT workers in New Jersey and around the country, there is current no federal legislation that provides it. Instead, these workers are granted partial protection at the state or city level or through court rulings and executive orders. A 1995 executive order made it illegal for federal workers to be discriminated against based on their sexual orientation or gender, and President Obama has issued an executive order making it illegal for government contractors to discriminate based on those attributes.

As a general rule, most "blue states" have passed statewide laws offering LGBT workers protection against discrimination. However, many "red states" have failed to do the same although some cities within those states have passed some sort of legislation. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has interpreted Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to offer protection to workers based on sexual orientation and gender.

In a 2011 ruling, a judge from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit wrote that no one should be punished for gender nonconformity because protections are afforded to everyone including those who may be transgender. The panel that came to that conclusion included a judge who was considered among the most conservative on the federal bench. The ruling put the court in line with others that had previously ruled that nonconformity was part of a ban on sex discrimination as part of the Civil Rights Act.

Those who feel like they have been the victim of workplace discrimination because of their gender identity may wish to consult with an attorney who has employment law experience. The attorney can often assist in preparing and filing a claim with the EEOC.

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