Does Georgia recognize a claim for sexual orientation discrimination?

The short answer is no, Georgia does not recognize sexual orientation as a protected category and does not recognize a claim for sexual orientation discrimination. Claims of employment discrimination based on homosexuality, transsexuality, and transvestitism have generally been rejected by courts. However, a claim involving sexual orientation may still survive if the claim is set forth as a sex discrimination claim under Title VII. The issue should not be whether sexual orientation is explicitly listed in Title VII as a prohibited basis for employment actions, but rather whether the employer has relied on sex based considerations or taken sex into account when taking the challenged employment action.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has previously taken the position, under the Obama administration leadership, that discrimination based on homosexuality, transsexuality, and transvestitism is in fact sex discrimination. Despite the fact that the Eleventh Circuit, which includes Georgia, has previously decided against the LGBTQ community in this regard, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has held that discrimination against an individual because that person is transgender (also known as gender identity discrimination) is discrimination because of sex and therefore is covered under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Macy v. Department of Justice, EEOC Appeal No. 0120120821 (April 20, 2012). The Commission has also held that discrimination against an individual because of that person’s sexual orientation is discrimination because of sex and prohibited under Title VII. David Baldwin v. Dep’t of Transportation, EEOC Appeal No. 120133080 (July 15, 2015). The United States Supreme Court has not taken up the cause and so it may still be worth pursuing these claims (even in the Eleventh Circuit).

If you believe that your employer has treated you wrongly, call me at (912) 244-3999 to schedule an initial consultation so we can sit down and talk about the facts of your case and so that I can give you my opinion about whether or not you have a case.