Sexual Orientation Discrimination

Image for Florida Sexual Orientation Discrimination LawyerSexual Orientation Discrimination is unlawful. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) interprets and enforces Title VII’s prohibition of sex discrimination as forbidding any employment discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation.  These protections apply regardless of any contrary state or local laws.

Through investigation, conciliation, and litigation of charges by individuals against private sector employers, as well as hearings and appeals for federal sector workers, the Commission has taken the position that existing sex discrimination provisions in Title VII protect lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) applicants and employees against employment bias.

Examples of LGBT-Related Sexual Orientation Discrimination Claims

    • Some examples of LGBT-related claims that EEOC views as unlawful sexual orientation discrimination include:Image of Florida Sexual Orientation Discrimination
    • Failing to hire an applicant because she is a transgender woman.
    • Firing an employee because he is planning or has made a gender transition.
    • Denying an employee equal access to a common restroom corresponding to the employee’s gender identity.
    • Harassing an employee because of a gender transition, such as by intentionally and persistently failing to use the name and gender pronoun that correspond to the gender identity with which the employee identifies, and which the employee has communicated to management and employees.
    • Denying an employee a promotion because he is gay or straight.
    • Discriminating in terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, such as providing a lower salary to an employee because of sexual orientation, or denying spousal health insurance benefits to a female employee because her legal spouse is a woman, while providing spousal health insurance to a male employee whose legal spouse is a woman.
    • Harassing an employee because of his or her sexual orientation, for example, by derogatory terms, sexually oriented comments, or disparaging remarks for associating with a person of the same or opposite sex.
    • Discriminating against or harassing an employee because of his or her sexual orientation or gender identity, in combination with another unlawful reason, for example, on the basis of transgender status and race, or sexual orientation and disability.

Federal Protections Against Sexual Discrimination

 

While Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 does not explicitly include sexual orientation or gender identity in its list of protected bases, the Commission, consistent with Supreme Court case law holding that employment actions motivated by gender stereotyping are unlawful sex discrimination and other court decisions, interprets the statute’s sex discrimination provision as prohibiting discrimination against employees on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

Over the past several years the Commission has set forth its position in several published decisions involving federal employment.  These decisions explain the legal basis for concluding that LGBT-related discrimination constitutes sex discrimination under Title VII, and give examples of what would be considered unlawful. In so ruling, the Commission has not recognized any new protected characteristics under Title VII.  Rather, it has applied existing Title VII precedents to sex discrimination claims raised by LGBT individuals.  The Commission has reiterated these positions through recent amicus curiae briefs and litigation against private companies.

Sexual Orientation Discrimination Resources

 

Fact Sheet on Recent EEOC Litigation Regarding Title VII & LGBT-Related Discrimination

Examples of Court Decisions Supporting Coverage of LGBT-Related Discrimination Under Title VII

Federal Sector Cases Involving LGBT Individuals

Brochure on Preventing Employment Discrimination Against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, or Transgender Employees