In honor of National Coming Out Day, we have put together some guidance on coming out in the workplace. Coming out in the workplace should be a safe and supportive process. If you are struggling with coming out at work, here are some things to consider.
- Does your employer have a written non-discrimination policy? (note: if you are in New York, you are automatically protected under Title VII, and NYC & NYS Human Rights Laws)
- Is there an LGBTQIA+ employee resource group at your workplace?
- What is the general climate at your workplace–do people tend to make anti-LGBTQIA+ comments?
- Are any of your coworkers openly LGBTQIA+?
Make a Plan
- Identify someone at your workplace who is LGBTQIA+ supportive, and talk to them first. They may have advice on how to best go about coming out in your specific environment, and can provide you with emotional support.
- Talk about LGBTQIA+ news, movies, TV shows, etc. as a way to signal your views and assess the climate of your workplace. Once you feel comfortable that those around you will not create a hostile environment, you can feel more at ease to express yourself.
Keep in Mind
You are not obligated to tell your employer anything regarding your sexual orientation or gender identity. If you do choose to come out to your employer, be clear about, for example, your pronouns. An employer cannot be held liable for discrimination if they are not aware.
It is also important to remember that conversations about sexual orientation inherently have a sexual component. Be careful that you are not engaging in any overtly sexual conversation that might offend other employees. Everyone, regardless of sexual orientation, should be mindful of this. This does not mean that you should be afraid to say you are gay and proud!
If You Feel You Are Being Discriminated Against
- Educate yourself about your rights.
- Go on record (preferably in writing–email is a great tool) saying that you have experienced a violation. This should be to someone of authority who can actually do something to ameliorate the issue, not just a colleague. It does not have to be HR (HR is not your friend; they are there to serve the company’s interests and minimize potential legal exposure).
- Find a good attorney
Benefits of Being Open at Work
- Eliminates the stress of hiding
- Breaks down barriers and fosters more understanding
- Builds trust in working relationships
- Allows you to bring your whole self to work
On behalf of all of us at Filippatos PLLC, Happy National Coming Out Day!
We at Filippatos PLLC stand in proud solidarity with the LGBTQIA+ community. We believe that all people deserve the right to exist freely, no matter who they love or how they express their gender. If you are experiencing discrimination at work due to your sexuality or gender expression, please give us a call at 888-9-JOBLAW for a free consultation. We will do our utmost to help secure you the justice you deserve.