The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, a federal agency that ensures the enforcement of federal laws that make it illegal to discriminate on specified grounds against a job applicant or an employee has announced two lawsuits alleging anti-gay discrimination.
The EEOC Philadelphia office says in its lawsuit against Scott Medical Health Center a gay employee quit after his manager used gay slurs. It says in a separate lawsuit in Baltimore a lesbian employee of IFCO Systems NA was fired after complaining her supervisor made comments regarding her sexual orientation and appearance.
In 2015 the EEOC ruled in a complaint brought to them by a federal employee that antigay discrimination is a form of sex discrimination that violates the 1964 Civil Rights Act. The EEOC had previously ruled in a case brought by Transgender Law Center for a federal job applicant that discrimination based on a person’s gender identity or expression is similarly prohibited.
The EEOC’s interpretation of the law is binding for the federal workforce and is entitled to significant respect from the courts when they are considering employment discrimination claims brought by private sector LGBTQ workers and state and local government employees.
Commenting on the EEOC’s new lawsuits, Lambda Legal’s Jenny Pizer said, “By filing these two cases against private companies, the EEOC is taking a next logical step in its role as enforcer of our federal civil rights laws. The cases are tremendously important because they spotlight both the pervasive problem of antigay workplace harassment and the fact that the existing ban on sex discrimination, when properly understood, makes that abusive conduct illegal.”