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EEOC Files Groundbreaking Sexual Orientation Discrimination Suits

EEOC Files Groundbreaking Sexual Orientation Discrimination Suits

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently filed the first-ever federal sexual orientation discrimination cases.

These landmark cases have been filed on behalf of two workers – a male and a female. While one case names Scott Medical Health Center as the defendant, the other has been filed against Pallet Companies, dba IFCO Systems NA.

Both cases alleges violations of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex and retaliation.

With the filing of these two suits, EEOC is continuing to solidify its commitment to ensuring that individuals are not discriminated against in workplaces because of their sexual orientation… While some federal courts have begun to recognize this right under Title VII, it is critical that all courts do so. – EEOC General Counsel David Lopez has explained.

Brief Background: Grounds for Filing under Title VII

Grounds for filing these cases stem from a July 2015 federal court ruling (Baldwin v. Department of Transportation, Appeal No. 0120133080), which determined that sexual orientation discrimination is, by its very nature, discrimination because of sex.

In this case, the EEOC pointed to Title VII’s prohibition of sexual discrimination, finding that:1

  1. Sexual orientation discrimination necessarily involves treating workers less favorably because of their sex, and sexual orientation as a concept cannot be understood without reference to sex.
  2. Sexual orientation discrimination is rooted in noncompliance with sex stereotypes and gender norms, and employment decisions based on such stereotypes and norms have long been found to be prohibited sex discrimination under Title VII.
  3. Sexual orientation discrimination punishes workers because of their close personal association with members of a particular sex, such as marital and other personal relationships.

The Case against Scott Medical Health Center

This case, which was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania, alleges that Scott Medical Health Center should be liable for the alleged sexual harassment of a gay male employee. According to the complaint, the allegations include that:

  • A manager allegedly referred to the plaintiff using several anti-gay epithets.
  • The manager made highly offensive comments about the plaintiff’s sexuality and gay lifestyle.
  • Although the plaintiff lodged a complaint with the clinic director, the director responded that the manager was just “doing his job.” The director is also accused of refusing to take any action to stop the alleged harassment.
  • After enduring weeks of taunting by his manager, which allegedly created a hostile work environment for the plaintiff, he quit.

The Case against Pallet Companies

This case, which has been field in U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, claims that Pallet Companies should be liable for the alleged sexual harassment of a lesbian female employee. According to this complaint, the allegations include that:

  • A supervisor allegedly made several comments regarding the plaintiff’s sexual orientation and appearance, like “I want to turn you back into a woman” and “You would look good in a dress.”
  • The supervisor made lewd and/or explicit sexual gestures towards the plaintiff. For instance, the supervisor reportedly blew a kiss at the plaintiff and circled his tongue in a sexually suggestive manner.
  • The plaintiff attempted to report the alleged harassment by lodging a complaint with upper management and calling the employee hotline to make a report.
  • A few days after filing her complaint, Pallet Companies allegedly retaliated against her by firing her.

As more news about the progress and outcomes of these groundbreaking cases becomes available, we will report the latest updates to you here, in a future blog. Until then,  tell us what you think about these sexual orientation discrimination cases on Facebook & Google+.

Contact a Los Angeles Discrimination Lawyer at Moon & Yang 

If you have been the target of any type of workplace discrimination or harassment, contact a Los Angeles discrimination lawyer at the Moon & Yang for answers about your rights, potential case and best options for recovery and justice. Call us at (213) 232-3128 or email us via the contact form on this page.

Categories: Sex/Gender Discrimination, Wrongful Termination