EEOC Updates Guidelines On Protections for LGBTQ+ Employees - Tilson

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has released updated guidance on discrimination based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, which falls under the provision of Title VII of the Civil Rights act of 1964.

Title VII prohibits employers with 15 or more employees to discrimination against applicants and employees based on their race, color, religion, sex and national origin. While the regulations under this law have not changed, a recent Supreme Court Case, Bostock v. Clayton County, led the EEOC to clarify its guidelines on providing workplace protections for LGBTQ+ employees and job candidates.

The Bostock case involved three cases alleging discrimination against LGBTQ+ employees. The Supreme Court ruled that to discriminate against a person based on their sexual orientation or transgender status is the same as discriminating against a person based on their gender.

The EEOC has provided clarification on the following items:

  1. An employer cannot be discriminate against an individual at any point of employment for the sexual orientation or gender identity. This includes hiring, firing, promotions, training, etc.
  2. Employees should not be subjected to a hostile work environment or harassment because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
    • Employers should be mindful of employees preferred name and pronouns. An accidental misuse is not a violation of Title VII, but recurring instances could create a hostile work environment.
  3. Employers are not permitted to create policies or practices that discriminated against sexual orientation or gender identity.
    • Employers cannot refuse to hire an individual for a client-facing job because their customers may not want to work with someone who have a different sexual orientation or gender identity.
  4. Employers cannot retaliate against, punish, or harass against an employee for filing an EEOC claim related to discrimination against sexual orientation or gender identity.

For more information the EEOC has created a Q&A guide to provide further assistance on, conduct that could constitute as discrimination or harassment against sexual orientation or gender identity. Please click here to view the EEOC’s resources.

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