Some LGBTQ employees in California may be concerned about experiencing discrimination in the workplace. However, two recent federal cases could help extend protections for LGBTQ workers on a national level.

On March 7, the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that a transgender woman was illegally discriminated against when her employer fired her in 2013. According to the lawsuit, the woman was terminated from her position at a Detroit-area funeral home after telling her employer she was transgender and about to begin her transition. A lower court sided with the employer, ruling that he had the right to let the employee go due to his religious beliefs. However, the appeals court ruled in favor of the plaintiff, finding that the employer’s religious beliefs did not exempt him from adhering to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which protect workers from sex-based discrimination. The ruling is the first to find that religious beliefs may not be used as an excuse for workplace discrimination.

On the same day as the 6th Circuit Court ruling, Lamba Legal appealed the case of an LGBTQ health care salesman to the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals. According to the complaint, the man was offered a job at Midwest Geriatric Management in Missouri, but the offer was rescinded when the company learned that he is gay. The owners of MGM claimed that the man’s sexual orientation went against their religious beliefs.

California workers facing workplace discrimination based on their sexual orientation may find relief by speaking to an attorney familiar with employment law. After reviewing the case, legal counsel may recommend filing a complaint with the U.S Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.