The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) continues to expand its understanding of what constitutes discrimination in the workplace. So reports WorkplaceClassAction.com.
The agency has made clear that it interprets discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity to fall within the confines of sex discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Recently, the EEOC brought two lawsuits that could become landmark cases, depending on their outcomes–both in U.S. District Courts. One case (filed in Pennsylvania) alleges that a gay male employee was harassed by his supervisor because of the employee’s sexuality. When the individual complained, the suit contends, management failed to act, creating a hostile work environment for the employee, causing him to resign.
The second action was brought in Maryland on behalf of a lesbian employee against her supervisor, who allegedly harassed her based on her sexual orientation and then terminated her after she reported the harassment. At the present time, federal courts have yet to validate the EEOC’s expansive interpretation of sex discrimination under Title VII, but the actions put employers on notice that the agency is watching closely for potential discrimination cases based on sexual orientation and/or gender identity.