Sexual Orientation Discrimination Lawsuits Filed By EEOC Against Two Companies Under Title VII

Two employers engaged in prohibited sex discrimination when they allowed the harassment of employees because of their sexual orientation, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alleged in lawsuits announced today.

It’s the first time the EEOC has sued private sector employers for sexual orientation bias under Title VII’s sex discrimination prohibition.

The defendants are Scott Medical Health Center located in Pennsylvania and IFCO Systems located in Maryland.

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.

In its suit against IFCO Systems, EEOC charged that a lesbian employee was harassed by her supervisor because of her sexual orientation. Her supervisor made numerous comments to her regarding her sexual orientation and appearance, such as “I want to turn you back into a woman” and “You would look good in a dress,” according to the suit. At one point, the supervisor blew a kiss at her and circled his tongue at her in a suggestive manner, EEOC alleged. The employee complained to management and called the employee hotline about the harassment. IFCO fired the female employee just a few days later in retaliation for making the complaints, EEOC charged.

As the federal law enforcement agency charged with interpreting and enforcing Title VII, EEOC has concluded that harassment and other discrimination because of sexual orientation is prohibited sex discrimination.

Here’s today’s announcement of the lawsuits.

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