The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently filed two discrimination lawsuits warning employers that it will continue challenging the boundaries of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination in the workplace.
The two lawsuits are the first to target discrimination based on sexual orientation, even though that category is not explicitly protected under Title VII, and are a message from the EEOC that it plans to broaden this interpretation for future cases.
Gregory Abrams, counsel in Faegre Baker Daniels’ Labor and Employment practice, published an article in the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin about these cases and what they mean for employers going forward.
“Sexual orientation is not an explicitly protected category in Title VII,” Abrams said. “However, the EEOC’s theory is that discriminating against a gay or lesbian employee constitutes prohibited sex discrimination.”
“The EEOC’s litigation demonstrates that employers could be susceptible to EEOC action regardless of state law…Employers who are not vigilant in prohibiting mistreatment of LGBT employees, and responding to complaints of same, do so at their own peril.”