LGTBQ Discrimination Lawyer

Throughout history, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) people have faced discrimination. Although there has been significant progress on that front in recent years, LGBTQ people still face discrimination and harassment. In fact, according to a 2020 survey, 1 in 3 LGBTQ Americans faced discrimination of some kind over the past year.

This type of discrimination can occur in almost any context: housing, school, health care, services, and other aspects of life. While Ohio law does not specifically prohibit discrimination against LGBTQ people from discrimination in housing, employment, or public accommodations, federal civil rights laws (and some local ordinances) offer some degree of protection. A skilled LGBTQ discrimination attorney can work with you to advocate for your rights.

The law firm of Engel & Martin stands with the LGBTQ community. Our legal team is part of the movement to protect the rights of LGBTQ people throughout Ohio – including testifying in support of legislation that would support the rights of ALL Ohioans to employment and housing free from discrimination. If you have suffered discrimination because of your sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression, we will advocate for your right to live free from harassment and discrimination.

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What Laws Govern LGBTQ Discrimination Claims in Ohio?

Ohio’s civil rights code forbids discrimination on the basis of race, color, sex, disability, age, religion, or national origin. Like most states, Ohio’s civil rights laws do not protect individuals from discrimination on the basis of their status as an LGBTQ individual.

Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964 also does not explicitly list sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression as protected classes. However, decisions by federal courts – and more recently, the United States Supreme Court – have found that Title VII makes it unlawful to discriminate against LGBTQ Americans.

These rulings affirm that when an employer discriminates against a person because of their sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression, they are necessarily discriminating against them on the basis of sex. In other words, because this type of discrimination is based on beliefs or stereotypes about how a person of a particular sex should behave, it is forbidden under Title VII. For example, if an employer fired a male employee for dating a man, but did not fire a female employee for dating a man, the employer would be treating two employees differently based on their sex.

Although Ohio law does not specifically protect LGBTQ people from being discriminated against in housing, employment, health care public accommodations, and other services, a skilled LGBTQ discrimination lawyer can evaluate a particular claim and use their knowledge of federal and state law to put together a strong case. For example, a skilled attorney may be able to argue that LGBTQ discrimination violates a person’s equal protection rights under the 14th Amendment of the United States constitution. This constitutional amendment ensures that individuals in similar situations be treated equally by the law.

When LGBTQ discrimination issues arise, the impact can be devastating. We understand how traumatic it can be to be fired from a job, refused healthcare, or otherwise be treated differently for who you are as a person. We will work hard to right those wrongs – and fight against all forms of discrimination against LGBTQ people.

LGBTQ Discrimination Cases in Ohio

At Engel & Martin, our legal team is dedicated to helping individuals who have faced all types of LGBTQ discrimination. This includes obtaining what one observer described as a “very powerful” preliminary injunction against The Ohio State University on behalf of a transgender student. The case involved due process protections for college students.

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Our LGBTQ discrimination lawyers have also filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of parents of transgender teenagers who are seeking name changes, or whose name changes have been denied. In the lawsuit, our attorneys alleged that a Warren County Juvenile Court judge violated the equal protection rights of transgender teens when he denied their requests for a name change to conform with their gender identity.  The lawsuit alleged that the judge has a pattern and practice treating transgender teenagers differently than others who seek a name change, and of ignoring evidence with doctors and other experts that the name change is critical to mitigating depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideations/attempts by transgender teenagers.

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In addition to LGBTQ discrimination cases, the attorneys of Engel & Martin recognize that members of the LGBTQ community often face unique legal issues due to outdated laws and discriminatory legal practices and systems. For example, many LGBTQ people face specific challenges navigating family law issues, particularly as it relates to child custody and adoption.

Our team can assist LGBTQ clients with a range of legal needs, including:

  • Estate planning
  • Real estate
  • Business 
  • Marriage 
  • Divorce 
  • Separation 
  • Campus disciplinary hearings
  • Establishing and modifying parenting plans 
  • Establishing child support 
  • Name changes
  • Petitioning for a step-parent or second-parent adoption
  • Criminal defense

When challenges arise, our strong commitment to civil rights and unmatched experience can ensure that your legal needs are met in a competent, effective, and compassionate manner. Our LGBTQ-friendly lawyers and staff are here for you and will work collaboratively with you on your legal matters and challenges.

A Judge Discriminated Against Me in a Court Case Because of My Sexual Orientation. What Can I Do?

If a judge, court staff, or attorney discriminated against you in court, then you may be able to file a claim against them. Under Ohio’s Code of Judicial Conduct, judges are prohibited from showing bias or prejudice or engaging in harassment in the performance of their judicial duties on the basis of race, sex, gender, religion, national origin, ethnicity, disability, age, sexual orientation, marital status, socioeconomic status, or political affiliation. Judges are also not allowed to permit court staff, officials, or lawyers in proceedings before the court to engage in this type of discrimination or harassment.

Unfortunately, this type of situation arises in Ohio courts.  Our law firm filed a federal lawsuit against a Warren County judge who denied name changes for transgender teens. If you experience LGBTQ discrimination, bias, or harassment, as a party to a legal matter, witness, juror, or attorney, our law firm can counsel you on your options, including filing a complaint against the judge.

Can a Landlord Refuse to Rent to Me Because I Am LGBTQ?

The federal Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex. This law applies to the sale and rental of housing, including mortgages and housing assistance. While courts have not specifically interpreted this law to cover LGBTQ discrimination, it arguably should be based on prior court rulings on Title VII.  Some local ordinances provide additional protections. In addition, landlords that receive funds from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) or who participate in certain other federal programs are prohibited from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

If you have faced housing discrimination, you may be able to file a claim against your landlord, lender, or another entity. Our team of skilled LGBTQ discrimination attorneys can evaluate your case and advise you of your options.

My Child Is Being Discriminated Against in School Because They Are LGBTQ. What Can I Do?

Title IX of the federal Education Amendment of 1972 forbids public schools from engaging in discrimination on the basis of sex. Multiple federal courts have found that Title IX protects LGBTQ students because discrimination or harassment against them is considered discrimination on the basis of sex. This may apply to a range of LGBTQ discrimination, including disciplining students who don’t conform to gender stereotypes and refusing to allow transgender students to use bathrooms consistent with their gender identity.

You may be able to pursue a civil rights claim against the school or school district, either under the Constitution or Applicable laws like Title IX. A seasoned LGBTQ discrimination lawyer can help with the process.

Facing LGBTQ Discrimination in Ohio? We Can Help

Discrimination against LGBTQ individuals is still far too prevalent in Ohio – and throughout the United States. If you have experienced LGBTQ discrimination in buying or renting a house, employment, receiving services, at school, or in any other context, our law firm will advocate for your rights. We are dedicated to helping all residents of Ohio enjoy equal protection under the law.

Engel & Martin represents clients throughout Ohio on a range of matters, including family law, criminal defense, and civil rights law. With broad litigation experience and a commitment to justice and equality, we are well-suited to take on any type of discrimination matter. To learn more or to schedule a consultation with a Mason civil rights attorney, call us at 513-445-9600 or fill out our online contact form.

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