A groundbreaking ruling by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission regarding federal employees’ claims and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 could provide nationwide protections for gay, lesbian, and bisexual workers across the country.
The independent commission addressed the question of whether the ban on sex discrimination in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 bars anti-LGB discrimination in a complaint brought by a Florida-based air traffic control specialist against Transportation Sec. Anthony Foxx.
The ruling — issued without objection from any members of the five-person commission — applies to federal employees’ claims directly, but it also applies to the entire EEOC, which includes its offices across the nation that take and investigate claims of discrimination in private employment. And, while only the Supreme Court could issue a definitive ruling on the interpretation, EEOC decisions are given significant deference by federal courts.
The ruling states that “sexual orientation is inherently a ‘sex-based consideration.’” In 2012, the EEOC ruled that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects transgender individuals from discrimination.
“Discrimination has no place in America, plain and simple,” said HRC President Chad Griffin in a statement. “This historic ruling by the EEOC makes clear they agree workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, much like gender identity, is illegal. While an important step, it also highlights the need for a comprehensive federal law permanently and clearly banning LGBT discrimination beyond employment to all areas of American life. Such a law would send a clear and permanent signal that discrimination against LGBT people will not be tolerated under any circumstances in this country, and we remain fully committed to making that happen.”
“We applaud the EEOC’s historic determination that sexual orientation is inherently a sex-based consideration, and we encourage all gay men, lesbians and bisexual Americans who face harassment or discrimination on the job to consult an attorney and file Title VII sex discrimination claims with the EEOC,” Tico Almeida, president of Freedom to Work said. “It’s time for LGBT advocates to retire the incorrect talking point that gay Americans can get married at Noon and fired at 2:00 pm without legal recourse. That kind of unlawful firing falls clearly under Title VII’s ban on sex discrimination, and it is already illegal.”
HRC notes that EEOC ruling are “not binding on federal courts, however they are persuasive.” The Supreme Court has yet to rule on the issue.