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DISCLAIMER: The information below is in the course of being updated and will likely change given the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in the Bostock case regarding Title VII and employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, as well as other recent developments. Please check back for updates, or contact Lambda Legal's Help Desk.

Should I come out on my job search?

Coming out as LGBT or HIV-positive is always a private decision. You should determine how important it is to you to be out at work and whether or not you will be out on your application, client pitch or contract bid or during your interview. Employers commonly do internet searches to screen applicants, so you may or may not be able to keep your sexual orientation, HIV status or gender identity secret if it is commonly known.

If you have LGBT-related job experience that you’re hesitant about sharing on your résumé, consider weighing any fears about your interviewer’s biases against the benefits of finding out early in the process whether a prospective employer is likely to treat you fairly. Also, some employers may find it curious or misleading if you excluded LGBT-related work history on a résumé that otherwise included all other work history.

In any case, always be prepared to answer questions about anything contained in your résumé.

It often is difficult to prove employment discrimination prior to getting a job, as the hiring process can be subjective and even idiosyncratic. If an employer demonstrates a pattern of hiring only certain kinds of people and never hiring others, the discrimination becomes more obvious. And sometimes, even today, employers will express biases during an interview that strongly suggest discrimination prompted the rejection letter. 

Also check out this Lambda Legal blog post on the subject.

What can an employer ask me in an interview?

The interview questions below are illegal:

  • Do you have HIV or AIDS?
  • Are you transgender?
  • Are you in good health?
  • What prescription drugs are you currently taking?
  • Have you ever been treated for mental health problems?
  • How many days were you sick last year?
  • Do you have a disability?

Depending on the laws in your area, an employer may be free to ask questions about your sexual orientation, marital status or whether you have children. Most employers won’t ask for this information because doing so may suggest that the employer might engage in discriminatory behavior, which could cause the employer legal and/or public relations headaches. 

Although employers can’t ask whether you have a disability or require that you take a medical exam prior to a conditional offer, they can ask about your ability to perform the so-called “essential functions” of the job and base their decisions on your answers. (For more about this, see “What are the ‘essential functions’ of a job?”)

FOR MORE INFORMATION: Contact our Help Desk if you feel you have experienced discrimination.