The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission recently reached a settlement with a company that the EEOC claimed had harassed one of its employees so badly that it forced him to quit. The employee, a sales consultant, was allegedly subjected to constant verbal harassment based on race, sexual orientation, and a disability. This alleged conduct is a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination and harassment on the basis of sex (including sexual orientation) and race. The alleged conduct also violations the Americans with Disabilities Act, which prohibits discrimination and harassment on the basis of disability. See EEOC v. Baccarat, Inc., No. 1:20-CV-02918 (S.D.N.Y.).
The U.S. Supreme Court recently ruled in Bostock v. Clayton County that firing employees because of their sexual orientation or gender identity is a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of a person’s sex. Title VII applies to most employers in the United States with fifteen or more employees. The Court ruled that when employers fire employees who are homosexual or transgender, that employer “fires that person for traits or actions it would not have questioned in members of a different sex. Sex plays a necessary and undisguisable role in the decision, exactly what Title VII forbids.” The Court reasoned that it is not possible for an employer to make an employment decision based on an employee’s sexual orientation without considering sex. Since 1964, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act has forbidden employers from discriminating against its employees because of their sex. Simply put, when Title VII applies, employers cannot fire an employee because they are gay, lesbian, or transgender. This applies even to employment decisions that occurred prior to the date of the Supreme Court’s opinion. The full opinion can be found at this link: https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/19pdf/17-1618_hfci.pdf
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission settled a lawsuit in which the EEOC claimed that El Tio Tex-Mex Grill had subjected an employee to offensive and inappropriate homophobic slurs and taunts regarding his sexual orientation. The lawsuit further alleged that these comments were also directed at one of the server’s friends, a busser who was straight, because of their friendship. The busser and server reported the harassment to their managers on multiple occasions, but the company took no action to stop the harassment, which allowed it to continue. The alleged conduct is a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits sex discrimination and sexual harassment. See EEOC v. Mejia Corp., No. 1:18-cv-01226 (E.D. Va.).
Bojangles Restaurants has agreed to pay $15,000 to settle a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit that was brought by the EEOC. The EEOC’s lawsuit alleges that a transgender employee was subjected to offensive comments regarding her appearance and gender identity. The employee, who was born male but identifies as female, was told by management to act and groom in ways that are stereotypically male. Wolfe reported the harassment, but it did not stop. The Complaint alleged that Wolfe was eventually fired in retaliation for reporting the harassment. See EEOC v. Bojangles Restaurants, Inc., No. 5:16-cv-00654 (E.D.N.C.).
The EEOC recently announced that Pallet Companies will pay $202,200 and provide other equitable relief to settle one of the first lawsuits that the EEOC brought alleging sex discrimination based on sexual orientation. The EEOC’s lawsuit alleged that a lesbian employee suffered repeated harassment from her supervisor because of the employee’s sexual orientation. The supervisor allegedly made inappropriate comments like “I want to turn you back into a woman” and “you would look good in a dress.” The EEOC further charged that the company retaliated against the employee by terminating her only days after she reported the incidents to management and the company’s employee hotline. The EEOC argued that this alleged conduct violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex. See EEOC v. Pallet Cos., No. 1:16-cv-00595 (D. Md.).