Discrimination based on Sexual Orientation, Stereotyping and Gender Identity

  • Sexual Orientation is not included within the list of protected classes under Ohio’s laws against discrimination, which are found in Ohio Revised Code Chapter 4112. This means that there is no specific statute prohibiting discrimination in employment, housing or public accommodation based on a person’s status as gay, lesbian or bisexual.
  • However, depending on the circumstances, a victim of sexual orientation discrimination may have other options. For example, some cities, counties and local governments have ordinances including sexual orientation as a protected class.  Many colleges and universities prohibit sexual orientation discrimination. Some private employers also have policies prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation. Lastly, State of Ohio employees and job applicants have certain protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation under Executive Order of the Governor.
  • State and federal courts, including the United States Supreme Court, have interpreted protections against sex-based discrimination to include same-sex sexual harassment, as well as discrimination based on gender identity and sex stereotyping. Under a stereotyping theory, if an employee is discriminated against or harassed because he or she is not conforming to traditional gender roles or stereotypes, the individual may have an actionable sex discrimination claim.
  • Some civil rights enforcement agencies have taken a stance, through case interpretation or policy guidance, which supports the extension of sexual orientation as a form of sex-based discrimination under federal anti-discrimination laws.
  • The Ohio Civil Rights Commission encourages anyone who feels they have been discriminated against because of his or her sexual orientation, stereotyping or gender identity, to file a charge of discrimination with our agency. While the Ohio Civil Rights Commission is limited to enforcing Ohio’s laws against discrimination, we will accept charges and take all reasonable steps to determine whether the Commission has jurisdiction to investigate the allegations under a harassment, stereotyping or gender identity theory. If the Commission is not able to directly handle the charge, we will take all necessary action to transfer a case or provide other resources and support.

The Ohio Civil Rights Commission is currently evaluating the recent US Supreme Court decision of Bostock v. Clayton County. To read that Supreme Court opinion, click here.

For more information on filing a charge, see our Charge Filing Procedure page.