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Can your employer ask about your sexual orientation?

On Behalf of | May 9, 2023 | Employment Discrimination |

Your workplace should be a safe space. It can be devastating to work in a hostile environment. Certain factors can lead to such an environment, including discrimination. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) protects employees from any form of discrimination. 

However, some employers violate EEOC laws. And at times, it may be done in a way that seems friendly, but it’s still discrimination. A good example is your employer asking about your sexual orientation, presented as them trying to know you better.

Is it okay for them to ask such a question? Here is what you should know. 

It’s unlawful

Your employer should not ask you about your sexual orientation. You don’t need to disclose such a personal matter to them. Being discriminated against because of sexual orientation happens in many companies. Therefore, you should be alarmed when they ask this question.

Are there exceptions?

Some employers may ask about sexual orientation in some instances, particularly during hiring. You may have seen this even when applying for a job online. They may do this for equal employment opportunities – they want to give people of different sexual identities the same opportunities. 

Nonetheless, you don’t need to answer, and an employer should inform you of this. If it’s an online application, you should have the option of “I do not wish to answer” or something similar.

If you provide an answer and believe it was used to discriminate against you, perhaps you were qualified but didn’t get the job or promotion, obtain more information and consider your options.

An employer is legally not required to ask about your sexual orientation. If they do and treat you unfairly because of your sexuality, you should learn about your legal rights and options