Recently, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced a federal court’s ruling that sexual orientation discrimination is a form of sex discrimination prohibited by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This ruling shows that the court agrees with the EEOC’s position in its lawsuit that claimed that LGBT discrimination is sex discrimination. California readers may be interested in the changes that this ruling could create in future employment discrimination lawsuits.

The lawsuit in question involved allegations of egregious harassment. The EEOC alleged that a gay male employee was repeatedly subjected to anti-gay epithets and offensive comments about his personal life and sex life and was forced to quit his job. The employer moved to dismiss the lawsuit, claiming that Title VII does not cover sexual-orientation discrimination. The federal court disagreed.

In its discovery, the Court found that discrimination based on sexual orientation is, at its very core, sex stereotyping. For example, if an employer tries to force an employee to fit into a gendered expectation, it would constitute sex stereotyping and would be in violation of Title VII. This could include anything that involves physical traits, clothing, mannerisms or sexual attraction.

Though this is a great win for the EEOC and a great step forward for LGBT employees, this decision is localized to the district of that federal court. Workers in California who feel that they are being subjected to employment discrimination may want to seek the advice of an attorney. Attorneys who are experienced in employment law litigation will be able to evaluate each client’s unique case and discuss the legal options that may be available.

Source: eeoc.gov, “Federal Court Issues Historic Ruling in EEOC Lawsuit: Civil Rights Act of 1964 Prohibits Sexual Orientation Discrimination“, Accessed on Nov. 22, 2016