The EEOC’s 2013-2016 Strategic Enforcement Plan addresses the emerging issue of the coverage of lesbian, gay and transgender individuals under Title VII’s sex discrimination provisions. Earlier this month the EEOC has taken steps to further its Strategic Enforcement Plan by filing two federal lawsuits alleging discriminatory employment practices by employers based on sexual orientation.
Since Title VII does not explicitly prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, the EEOC is restricted to arguing that employers discriminated based on the employee’s sex and the employer’s notions of traditional sexual stereotypes.
The EEOC has turned to rely on Supreme Court Rulings that state that same-sex harassment is an actionable form of sex discrimination. In the first case, EEOC v. Scott Medical Health Center, P.C., the EEOC alleges that Scott Medical harassed its employee Dale Baxely because of his sexual orientation and because he did not conform to Scott Medical’s gender-based expectations, preferences, or stereotypes.
The EEOC hopes to use this case to help expand the protection of Title VII to include lesbian, gay and transgender individuals.