Legal

EEOC Sues Employers Challenging Sexual Orientation Discrimination as Title-VII Sex Discrimination

By Jon Hyman

Mar. 2, 2016

The EEOC filed two lawsuits March 1, each claiming that an employer’s discrimination against an LGBT employee violated Title VII’s prohibition against sex discrimination.

From the EEOC’s press release:

In its suit against Scott Medical Health Center, EEOC charged that a gay male employee was subjected to harassment because of his sexual orientation. The agency said that the male employee’s manager repeatedly referred to him using various anti-gay epithets and made other highly offensive comments about his sexuality and sex life. When the employee complained to the clinic director, the director responded that the manager was “just doing his job,” and refused to take any action to stop the harassment, according to the suit. After enduring weeks of such comments by his manager, the employee quit rather than endure further harassment. 

In its suit against IFCO Systems, EEOC charged that a lesbian employee was harassed by her supervisor because of her sexual orientation. Her supervisor made numerous comments to her regarding her sexual orientation and appearance, such as “I want to turn you back into a woman” and “You would look good in a dress,” according to the suit. At one point, the supervisor blew a kiss at her and circled his tongue at her in a suggestive manner, EEOC alleged. The employee complained to management and called the employee hotline about the harassment. IFCO fired the female employee just a few days later in retaliation for making the complaints, EEOC charged.

 
As for me, I don’t have much to add other than what I said on this issue last July:

It’s incomprehensible and unjustifiable for an employer to discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. It’s antithetical to what this country stands for — government of the people, by the people, for the people, and justice for all (no matter with whom they happen to go to bed at night). Eventually, Congress will act, pass ENDA, and make LGBT discrimination a thing of the past. Until then, do right by your employees. Enact policies prohibiting this type of discrimination in your workplace. Send a message that you are an employer of inclusion, and not exclusion.

Jon Hyman is a partner in the Employment & Labor practice at Wickens Herzer Panza. Contact Hyman at JHyman@Wickenslaw.com.

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