Can you legally be fired as an educator for sexual orientation?

On Behalf of | Oct 4, 2021 | Employment Law |

It seems as if there have been a lot of stories in the news in recent years in which private educational institutions have terminated employees after discovering information about them such as their sexual orientation.

One such case that garnered attention in recent months in another state involved a Christian high school dismissing a devoutly religious employee because she was openly gay. Another coach from that same school came forward soon thereafter, saying that she was ousted from her job at the school for the same reason.

In the case of the most recent firing, the school told the coach that his sexuality would endanger the kids and school. In the case of the one let go a year prior, her employer told her being in a relationship with another woman would not align with the school’s values.

These recent situations bring to the forefront questions about whether it’s illegal to dismiss workers based on their sexual orientation.

Do any laws prohibit sexual orientation discrimination?

The Pennsylvania Human Relations Act (PHRA) prohibits employment discrimination based on sex, religion, nationality, age and other protected classes. While the law doesn’t explicitly include sexual orientation as a protected class, the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission (PHRC) announced in recent years that they would investigate similar allegations of discrimination. Governor Tom Wolf has signed two executive orders regarding discrimination of LGBTQ+ employees since coming into office.

As far as federal laws are concerned, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits sex-based discrimination in the workplace. This means that an employee subjected to ill-treatment based on gender identity or sexual orientation in the workplace may be able to take legal action against their employer for doing so.

Understanding whether your employer’s treatment of you violates the law can be challenging to do. You’ll want to take time to understand the ins and outs of employment discrimination laws before moving forward in taking legal action in your case.

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