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Milwaukee employment law attorney sexual orientation discriminationThe U.S. Supreme Court recently announced that it will hear three cases involving discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and sexual identity in the workplace. The consequences of their decisions in these cases could be far-reaching for private citizens as well as employers who must comply with state and federal employment laws. A recent study shows that LGBT people are much more likely to experience discrimination at work than their heterosexual peers. A 2017 Harvard study found more than one in five LGBT Americans report experiencing employment-related discrimination. Therefore, many LGBT Americans will be eagerly waiting to hear about the Supreme Court’s decision on this issue. 

This legal question has presented a split among the lower courts. Some courts have ruled that federal law prohibits employers from discriminating against those who identify as LGBT. Other courts have held that there is no law prohibiting this discrimination in the workplace.

The federal law involved in these cases is Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which prohibits workplace discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. Absent from this list is sexual orientation or transgender status. So, that begs the question: Can the word “sex” be interpreted to include sexual orientation or transgender status? Those who argue that Title VII does protect LGBT individuals say that sexual orientation is a subset of sex, which is a prohibited basis under Title VII. In addition, those who argue that Title VII also protects transgender individuals claim that it is impossible to discriminate against an employee based on that employee's status as a transgender person without being motivated, at least in part, by the employee's sex. On the other hand, those who argue that Title VII does not protect LGBT individuals claim that “sex” refers only to someone’s biological sex determined at birth. 

Wisconsin defense attorney, Wisconsin criminal lawyer, violent crimeHate crimes are criminal acts committed because of someone’s race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, or disability. Charged and tried according to state statutes, most carry a “penalty enhancement” clause that increases the weight of a penalty. The federal government may also become involved in the investigation or prosecution of a potential hate crime. If you are facing charges for a hate crime, or are at risk for facing such charges, it is important that you understand the possible implications of a potential conviction. Hate Crime Charges in Wisconsin According to Wisconsin state law, hate crimes that would have originally resulted in a misdemeanor charge (other than Class A) have an increased penalty of up to one year in a county jail and a maximum fine of $10,000. Hate crimes that would have originally classified as Class A misdemeanors may result in a maximum of two years of imprisonment and an increased fine of $10,000. For hate crimes that would have been classified as a felony, the maximum fine may not be increased by more than $5,000, but the imprisonment term can be increased by as many as five extra years of imprisonment. FBI Involvement Although, typically, hate crimes are not considered federal offenses, the federal government can and sometimes will aid in the investigation and prosecution of a hate crime. Covered under the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, this involvement can include (but is not limited to) investigative activities, law enforcement support to state agencies, and even federal prosecution if the state is unwilling or incapable of moving forward with a hate crime prosecution. Not All Crimes against Target Groups Are Hate Crimes A crime against someone within a target group is not necessarily a hate crime because bias does not always play a role. If, however, there is any evidence to suggest that you may have committed a crime because of someone’s race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, or disability, it could be added to your charges, regardless of your intent. This, paired with the potential increase of punishment, makes the procurement of qualified legal representation critical for anyone who is facing charges over a crime against a target group.

The skilled Milwaukee criminal defense attorneys of GRGB Law, offer more than 40 years of experience to your criminal case. Comprised of a team that has experience on both sides of the law, our attorneys are capable of doing more than just protecting your rights; they know what it takes to build a solid defense for you. Schedule your consultation by calling our offices at 414-271-1440 today.



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