The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission recently issued an opinion declaring that rendering adverse employment decisions based upon a person’s sexual orientation is unlawful sexual discrimination. The Washington Post reported on how the EEOC’s 17-page decision will affect many gay, lesbian and transgender employees.
Many of the federal circuit courts had previously held that employment actions based upon sexual orientation were not prohibited under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. The rulings in those cases relied on assertions that Congress did not specifically list sexual orientation in Title VII. It is unclear whether the federal courts will now follow the EEOC’s lead or whether Congress will amend the law so that sexual orientation is considered a protected class and cannot be used as a basis for discrimination.
While the EEOC’s opinion is not binding on the federal courts, it is persuasive and could lead to greater equality in the workplace for many gay, lesbian, and transgender employees. If you feel that your employer has treated you unfairly based upon your sexual orientation – or gender, disability, race, age, or religion – please call the attorneys in Sommers Schwartz’s Employment Group. We’re here to help.