EEOC Determines that Gay and Lesbian Employees are Protected by Title VII

In a historic decision last week the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission determined that discrimination based on sexual orientation is a form of sex discrimination protected by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The July 16, 2015 decision effectively recommends a ban on discrimination against gay and lesbian employees in the workplace.

Up until last week only a minority of states had enacted laws protecting LGBT employees from workplace discrimination. While the EEOC’s decision does not change the law, it does set forth a recommendation that will likely lead to federal court decisions holding the same, therefore in effect making it illegal to discriminate in employment decisions on the basis of sexual orientation.

Landmark Case Involved an Air Traffic Controller

In last week’s decision an air traffic controller who was gay claimed he was denied a promotion with his company because he was gay. The employee filed a charge with the EEOC, who initially declined to prosecute the case, ruling that sexual orientation claims were not within its enforcement jurisdiction. On appeal, the EEOC overturned that determination, and held “[w]e conclude that sexual orientation is inherently a ‘sex-based consideration’ and an allegation of discrimination based on sexual orientation is necessarily an allegation of sex discrimination.”

Policy Updates and Further Training are Immediately Required

Neither congress nor the courts (most importantly the United States Supreme Court) have expressly adopted the EEOC’s finding. However, it is still important to educate employees about the importance of refraining from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Although the issue remains unsettled, [the EEOC’s findings are considered persuasive to the courts (yet non-binding)], last week’s ruling certainly is a step toward outlawing sexual orientation discrimination, and therefore training programs and employee policies should be updated to reflect a prohibition on any form of illegal discrimination, including sexual orientation.

Syntrio’s Discrimination and Harassment Courses are a Cost-Effective Means of Fighting Discrimination in the Workplace

Syntrio provides cost-effective discrimination and harassment training courses to employers of all sizes. Therein you will find real-life scenarios that illustrate difficult situations that arise in the workplace. By examining the scenarios and answering questions, employees and managers are better able to identify risky situations before they arise; therefore limiting the odds that a discrimination lawsuit will occur at your company.

Syntrio is committed to helping companies of all sizes eliminated discrimination in all aspects of the employment process, and therefore provides discrimination in the workplace courses that are cognizant of the value of time to modern companies.

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