Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity Employment Discrimination
Despite decades of advocacy and struggle, LGBTQI+ individuals continue to face persistent discrimination and acts of violence in America. In many instances, these attempts to undermine legal rights and protections and to inflict physical and emotional suffering are directed toward LGBTQI+ people of color, transgender people, and LGBTQI+ youth and their families. Yet, in response to this intolerance, many courageous LGBTQI+ individuals and allies continue to live by the immortal words of Bayard Rustin, a leading strategist in the civil rights movement and an advocate for the rights of Blacks and LGBTQI+ persons: “Let us be enraged by injustice, but let us not be destroyed by it.” For generations, members of the LGBTQI+ community and their allies have maintained their passion and commitment while working to combat injustice.
Over the past decade, the EEOC has taken a leadership role in establishing legal protections for LGBTQI+ workers—including the EEOC’s landmark decisions in Macy v. Holder and Baldwin v. Foxx. The EEOC continues to vigorously enforce legal protections against sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination, in private, state, and local employment; to resolve federal employees’ complaints of discrimination; and to advise federal agencies in protecting the workplace civil rights of LGBTQI+ applicants and employees.
In fiscal year 2021, through more than 400 merit resolutions of matters that included an allegation of sexual orientation or gender identity discrimination, the EEOC obtained approximately $9.2 million for complainants. The EEOC’s findings of discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity involved instances of severe or pervasive harassment, retaliation, and constructive discharge, including the following:
In June 2021, the Commission’s Office of Federal Operations (OFO) found a hostile work environment existed based on sex when a federal agency took months to act on an employee’s request for transfer after a coworker told a supervisor and two other coworkers that it was a mistake to have hired a gay employee, that the community was “not ready” for someone of her sexual orientation, and that the coworker did not want to work with her or even sit next to her in the car because of her sexual orientation.
In August 2021, the EEOC filed suit against an Applebee’s franchise for allegedly subjecting a black gay employee to harassment based on his sexual orientation and race and for retaliating when he complained by substantially reducing his work hours, resulting in his constructive discharge.
In September 2021, the EEOC’s OFO found that an employee was subjected to a hostile work environment based on sex where his supervisor referred to him and others as the “gay mafia,” said that “these people just won’t let it alone” when referencing an inquiry about Pride Month from an LGBTQI+ employee resource group, and commented that an applicant was gay and not a “good fit” because his personality was “too big for this office.”
In October 2021, through its pre-suit conciliation process, the EEOC obtained monetary relief for a transgender applicant who was not hired for a sales position because a hiring official believed he would not “mix well with the customers.”
The EEOC is committed to advancing equal employment opportunities for all members of the LGBTQI+ community and to ensuring they receive the dignity, respect, and support they deserve in the workplace to live authentically and fully contribute to our economy and society.
If you have any further questions or need additional information regarding the protections afforded members of the LGBTQI community, please contact me for a FREE confidential consultation at (916) 333-4653 or Stephen_Fiegel_Esq@comcast.net.
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