In recent months, the EEOC has made clear that protections for LGBT workers remains a priority for the EEOC. Before Thanksgiving, the EEOC published a document entitled “What you Should Know about EEOC and the Enforcement Protections for LGBT Workers,” in which the EEOC touted its enforcement efforts in this area and reaffirmed its commitment to fighting discrimination against LGBT individuals in the workplace.
In what commentators have dubbed the EEOC’s “guidebook” on this issue, the EEOC reasserted its position that workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC’s Strategic Enforcement Plan (adopted in December 2012) listed “coverage of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals under Title VII’s sex discrimination provisions, as they may apply” as a top enforcement priority. Consistent with that priority, the EEOC recently filed two lawsuits on behalf of transgender employees challenging alleged sex discrimination, and an amicus brief in the Seventh Circuit related these issues.
Significantly, the EEOC explained that it has instructed its investigators and attorneys that “discrimination against an individual because that person is transgender is a violation of Title VII’s prohibition of sex discrimination in employment.” In addition, investigators and attorneys were “instructed that lesbian, gay, and bisexual individuals also may bring valid Title VII sex discrimination claims, and that the EEOC should accept charges alleging sexual-orientation-related discrimination.” These allegations may include claims of sexual harassment or sex discrimination because of an individual’s failure to conform to sex-stereotypes.
As part of its outreach efforts, the EEOC has also developed a brochure on Gender Stereotyping, Preventing Employment Discrimination of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual or Transgender Workers.
A copy of the EEOC’s “guidebook” can be found here.