For the first time, the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is suing private employers on behalf of employees alleging discrimination based on their sexual orientation. Last year, the EEOC issued a rule preventing discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. See our article here.
The EEOC filed two lawsuits- one in Pennsylvania and one in Maryland. The EEOC is seeking injunctive relief along with compensatory and punitive damages.
The Maryland case alleges that a female employee was harassed because she was a lesbian and fired after she complained. The Pennsylvania case alleges that a gay male employee was harassed by a manager who made offensive comments about his sexuality. The employee complained to a superior, but no action was taken and the employee eventually quit employment.
As the EEOC focuses on investigating sexual orientation and gender identity claims, employers should make sure policies are in place against such discrimination and employees are properly trained the issues.