March 1, 2016 at 4:22 pm EST | by Michael K. Lavers
EEOC files first sexual orientation discrimination lawsuits

EEOC, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, gay news, Washington Blade

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The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on Tuesday filed its first two sex discrimination lawsuits based on sexual orientation.

The EEOC in a lawsuit that it filed in U.S. District Court in Baltimore alleges that Pallet Companies fired a lesbian woman after she said her supervisor harassed her because of her sexual orientation. The second lawsuit, which it filed in U.S. District Court in Pittsburgh, claims the manager of a gay man who worked at Scott Medical Health Center harassed him because of his sexual orientation.

The EEOC last July ruled that discrimination based upon sexual orientation amounts to sex discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Then-U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder in 2014 said the statute also protects transgender people.

“With the filing of these two suits, EEOC is continuing to solidify its commitment to ensuring that individuals are not discriminated against in workplaces because of their sexual orientation,” said EEOC General Counsel David Lopez in a press release that announced the lawsuits against Pallet Companies and Scott Medical Health Center. “While some federal courts have begun to recognize this right under Title VII, it is critical that all courts do so.”

Freedom to Work President Tico Almeida in a statement applauded the EEOC for filing the lawsuits.

“We applaud EEOC General Counsel David Lopez and his outstanding litigation team for bringing these historic lawsuits putting the federal government on the side of gay and lesbian employees who were unlawfully denied a fair shot on the job,” said Almeida.

John Murphy in a complaint that his lawyer filed with the EEOC last September alleges the Diocese of Richmond fired him from his job at an assistant living facility because he is gay and married to his husband.

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

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