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EEOC Files First Sexual Orientation Discrimination Lawsuits

Sexual Orientation Discrimination – last week, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) filed two lawsuits charging employers with discriminating against employees based upon their sexual orientation. This is the first time the EEOC has filed two sex discrimination cases against private employers based on sexual orientation since announcing last year that workplace discrimination against lesbian, gay, and bisexual workers violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Pennsylvania Case

In a Pennsylvania federal district court, the EEOC sued Scott Medical Health Center, claiming that a gay male employee was subjected to harassment because of his sexual orientation. The employee's manager allegedly used anti-gay slurs, such as “fag,” and “faggot,” and also made “highly offensive comments about his sexuality and sex life.” When the employee reported the manager's behavior to the clinic's president, the clinic president allegedly “expressly refused to take any action to stop the harassment.” The employee later resigned claiming that he could no longer endure further harassment. The lawsuit alleges that the health center ignored his complaints of discriminatory and harassing treatment.

Maryland Case

Filed in Maryland federal district court, the second EEOC suit claimed that an IFCO Systems supervisor harassed a lesbian employee because of her sexual orientation. The supervisor allegedly repeatedly made comments such as “I want to turn you back into a woman;” “I want you to like men again;” “Are you a girl or a man?” and “You don't have any breasts.” The supervisor also allegedly “stuck his tongue and circled it in a suggestive manner” toward the employee. The employee was allegedly fired shortly after reporting the supervisor's behavior to management and the employee hotline.

According to the EEOC's Strategic Enforcement Plan for 2013-2016, confirming coverage of LGBT individuals under Title VII's sex-discrimination provisions is one of the agency's six national priorities. Congress has also taken steps to amend Title VII's employment discrimination prohibition to expressly include sexual orientation as a protected classification. While these actions have been unsuccessful to date, a number of states (almost half) and municipalities have passed laws protecting employees against employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. During the last several years, federal courts around the country have ruled that employment discrimination based upon sexual stereotyping and/or sexual orientation is already prohibited under Title VII's existing provisions.

California Employment Lawyers 

While the EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws against employment discrimination, proving discrimination can be challenging.  If you feel you have been a victim of sexual orientation discrimination, the experienced lawyers at Kingsley & Kingsley can help. Take the first step to protecting yourself and stopping this hurtful and illegal behavior.  Take advantage of a free initial consultation by calling us toll free at (818) 239-7030 or by clicking here to contact us regarding your case.