Wednesday, March 2, 2016

It has begun - EEOC files sexual orientation discrimination lawsuits

Well, we knew it was coming, we just didn't know when. Yesterday, the EEOC issued a press release: EEOC Files First Suits Challenging Sexual Orientation Discrimination as Sex Discrimination. One exciting piece of news (for me) was that the EEOC filed one of its two new sexual orientation discrimination lawsuits in the Western District of Pennsylvania! That's my circuit (the Third Circuit), although I primarily practice in the Middle District of Pennsylvania.

The EEOC describes the PA lawsuit as:
Not official use.
In its suit against Scott Medical Health Center, EEOC charged that a gay male employee was subjected to harassment because of his sexual orientation. The agency said that the male employee's manager repeatedly referred to him using various anti-gay epithets and made other highly offensive comments about his sexuality and sex life. When the employee complained to the clinic director, the director responded that the manager was "just doing his job," and refused to take any action to stop the harassment, according to the suit. After enduring weeks of such comments by his manager, the employee quit rather than endure further harassment.
Frankly, this sounds like it has the potential to be decided in favor of the employee without a broad holding that Title VII necessarily prohibits sexual orientation discrimination. We'll see though.