Last week the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) concluded that discrimination against LGBT workers is essentially discrimination based on sex, and therefore it violates Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Here is how Time summarizes the rationale for this ruling:
In the past, courts have ruled that Title VII does not cover discrimination based on sexual orientation because it’s not explicitly mentioned in the law, but the EEOC’s ruling disputes that reasoning. “Sexual orientation discrimination is sex discrimination because it necessarily entails treating an employee less favorably because of the employee’s sex,” the EEOC concluded. The committee argued that if an employer discriminated against a lesbian for displaying a photo of her wife, but not a straight man for showing a photo of his wife, that amounts to sex discrimination.
After the Supreme Court ruling that assured the right of marriage for all in the U.S., attention turned to the fact that in most states, there is no protections against employment and housing discrimination based on sexual orientation. This EEOC ruling is a huge step toward ending employment discrimination, but many believe that we still need legislation that addresses specific protections for LGBTQ individuals in both employment and housing. Meanwhile, this ruling provides a major avenue for fighting against employment discrimination – and knowing it exists is as essential as the ruling itself! So pass this along to all your friends and colleagues!