The EEOC is responsible for protecting workers’ rights under the Civil Rights Act, which bars employers from discriminating based upon race, religion, sex or national origin. The EEOC recently announced that it has filed two groundbreaking lawsuits against private employers alleging that sexual orientation discrimination is unlawful sex bias under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. These are the first of these types of cases for the EEOC.
In the lawsuit against Scott Medical Health Center in Pittsburg, the EEOC is alleging that Dale Baxley, a gay male telemarketing employee was subjected to a sexually hostile work environment because of his sexual orientation. Baxley was subjected to “various anti-gay epithets” and “highly offensive comments about his sexuality and sex life” by his male supervisor. Baxley complained to HR but nothing was done to take care of the problem. He was forced to quit rather than endure further harassment.
In the other lawsuit against Pallet Cos., Yolanda Boone, a lesbian forklift operator, was harassed because of her sexual orientation. Her male supervisor commented on Boone’s sexual orientation and appearance, including remarks such as “I want to turn you back into a woman” and “you would look good in a dress”. She was fired after she complained about the harassment to management.
In each lawsuit, the EEOC contends sexual orientation discrimination “necessarily entails” treating an employee less favorably because of his or her sex. The EEOC is continuing to ensure that individuals are not discriminated against in workplaces because of their sexual orientation and they invite workers to submit charges claiming discrimination over sexual orientation.