In what may proved to be a huge ruling, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has ruled that existing law and regulations bar employment discrimination based on sexual orientation. In states like Virginia which remain anti-gay in many ways (e.g., no express state law employment protections, special privileges for anti-gay adoption agencies, and no fair housing protections), this could have a huge impact on members of the LGBT community who find themselves fired from jobs because their very existence offends the foul sensibilities of the "godly folk." Personally, I have long argued that since anti-gay discrimination is based on religion, existing laws should protect LGBT individuals. The Virginia Supreme Court, consistent with its track record of trying to stay a century behind the rest of the country would hear nothing of that argument when I represent Michael Moore who was fired by the Virginia Museum of Natural History by a bigoted executive director. BuzzFeed looks at this important ruling. Here are highlights:
WASHINGTON — The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has ruled that existing civil rights law bars sexual orientation-based employment discrimination — a groundbreaking decision to advance legal protections for gay, lesbian, and bisexual workers.“[A]llegations of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation necessarily state a claim of discrimination on the basis of sex,” the commission concluded in a decision dated July 15.
The independent commission addressed the question of whether the ban on sex discrimination in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 bars anti-LGB discrimination in a complaint brought by a Florida-based air traffic control specialist against Transportation Sec. Anthony Foxx.
The ruling — approved by a 3-2 vote of the five-person commission — applies to federal employees’ claims directly, but it also applies to the entire EEOC, which includes its offices across the nation that take and investigate claims of discrimination in private employment.
While only the Supreme Court could issue a definitive ruling on the interpretation, EEOC decisions are given significant deference by federal courts.
In December 2014, the Justice Department announced a similar view of the law — stating that it would apply that interpretation in its cases.
While the EEOC had been pushing toward today’s decision with cases and even field guidance addressing coverage under Title VII of specific types of discrimination faced by gay people, the July 15 decision states that “sexual orientation is inherently a ‘sex-based consideration.’”
“[T]he question is not whether sexual orientation is explicitly listed in Title VII as a prohibited basis for employment actions. It is not,” the commission found. Instead, the commission stated that the question is the same as in any other Title VII sex discrimination case: “whether the agency has ‘relied on sex-based considerations’ or ‘take[n] gender into account’ when taking the challenged employment action.”
The commission found that sexual orientation discrimination is sex discrimination for several reasons. Among the reasons, the commission stated, is because sexual orientation discrimination “necessarily entails treating an employee less favorably because of the employee’s sex” and “because it is associational discrimination on the basis of sex.”
“We therefore conclude that Complainant’s allegations of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation state a claim of discrimination on the basis of sex. We further conclude that allegations of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation necessarily state a claim of discrimination on the basis of sex.”
Expect more wailing and spittle flecked rants from the Christofascists as their power to abuse those who reject their hate and fear based beliefs shrinks yet again. Kudos to the EEOC.