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There are no federal laws that specifically target gender identity or sexual orientation, however, the Civil Rights Act does ban discrimination by sex.

A 1989 court ruling set a precedent that employees could not be discriminated against based upon sex stereotyping, or not acting in accordance with societal expectations.

Managers should be careful to consider there are many areas of behavior and identity, while not covered entirely by name in legislation – that can result in litigation.

Advice for navigating discrimination laws in the workplace:

First and foremost, know the laws in your city and state. Many states have their own specific anti-discrimination laws that go beyond federal protections on age, disability, gender, race, national origin and religion.

If possible, having a good employment attorney on retainer is a smart idea. New laws are always evolving and having legal counsel available is an asset to your company.

The most basic of principles is to focus on specific job qualifications and exclude everything else about the candidate, says Debra Raskin, a plaintiff’s employment lawyer.

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