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Civil Rights

What is Sexual Orientation Discrimination in Oregon?

— November 10, 2021

Oregon offers employees greater protection compared to federal law, and specific sexual orientations are considered protected classes.

Sexual harassment can take many forms. When most people think of sexual harassment, they might picture a CEO acting inappropriately towards his female secretary or a similar scene. However, sexual harassment can also occur if workers are discriminated against because of their sexual orientation or identity. For example, one worker might be treated differently because he is bisexual. Even though no sexual contact might have occurred between workers at a company, this type of discrimination still falls under the broad umbrella of “sexual harassment.” 

Fortunately, sexual orientation discrimination is against the law in Oregon. However, holding employers accountable for this type of misconduct isn’t always easy. Because of this, it’s always a good idea to consult with a qualified, experienced sexual harassment attorney in Oregon to go over your legal options. With their assistance, you can file your lawsuit in a confident, efficient manner and hold guilty parties accountable. 

What is a “Protected Class?”

If you fall under a “protected class” in Oregon, your employer cannot terminate you, retaliate against you, or discriminate against you in any way due to the shared characteristics of that class. Oregon offers employees greater protection compared to federal law, and specific sexual orientations are considered protected classes. These sexual orientations and identities are often referred to by the acronym “LGBTQIA2S.” This acronym includes:

Trans rights = civil rights; image by Women's eNews, via Flickr, CC BY 2.0, no changes.
Trans rights = civil rights; image by Women’s eNews, via Flickr, CC BY 2.0, no changes.
  • Lesbian
  • Gay
  • Bisexual
  • Trans
  • Queer
  • Intersex
  • Asexual
  • Two-Spirit

Know Your Rights

As a person of a certain sexual orientation, you have considerable protections under the Oregon Bureau of Labor & Industries. Here are a number of specific protections available to you:

  • If you identify as a trans individual, you can use the restroom that corresponds with your gender identity. Your employer cannot instruct you to use a certain bathroom, even if that bathroom is labeled “gender-neutral.” 
  • You cannot be treated differently because of your gender identity, even if you are simply planning to transition.
  • Your employer cannot repeatedly use pronouns that do not correspond to your gender identity. Although they will not face consequences for making honest mistakes, repeatedly using the wrong pronouns can constitute harassment. 


It’s also important to keep in mind that there may be some limitations to these protections. For example, employers may be able to legally terminate you because of your sexual orientation if they cite legitimate religious reasons for doing so. In addition, your employer can still enforce valid dress codes regardless of your sexual identity. Your orientation does not necessarily allow you to look and behave however you want while at work. 

Enlist the Help of a Qualified Attorney Today

If you’ve been the victim of sexual orientation discrimination in Portland, get in touch with a qualified attorney as soon as possible. With help from one of these legal professionals, you can approach this complex and daunting process in an efficient manner. Discrimination is never okay in any Oregon workplace, and you deserve the right to take legal action. Book your consultation today. 

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